Definition of declension in English:


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  • 1(in the grammar of Latin, Greek, and other languages) the variation of the form of a noun, pronoun, or adjective, by which its grammatical case, number, and gender are identified.

    ‘Gildersleeve and Lodge's Latin Grammar has a discussion of the declension of Greek nouns at pp.32-33.’
    • ‘Czech is a Slavic language with a declension system based on seven cases.’
    conjugation, declension
    1. 1.1The class to which a noun or adjective is assigned according to the manner of this variation.
      ‘this declension involves only two endings, a nominative and an oblique’
      • ‘It was in Latin and not English Language classes that we learnt about the various verb tenses and noun declensions.’
      • ‘The gender of the word alone is ambiguous, occurring in a declension denoting either males or females.’
      • ‘In Latin, if a word is second declension, it will be masculine.’
      • ‘I vaguely remembered that this depends on whether ‘syllabus’ is second declension, in which case the plural would be ‘syllabi’, or fourth declension, in which case it would be ‘syllabus’.’
      • ‘The fifth declension is unlikely because those nouns are all feminine.’
  • 2 archaic A condition of decline or moral deterioration.

    ‘the declension of the new generation’
    • ‘A careful reading of these reports from dozens of faithful missionaries - who preach the gospel of the sovereign grace of God in Jesus Christ - will bear out what we say about the widespread declension in missionary theology and methods.’
    • ‘Peter Milsom gave two very practical papers on spiritual growth and spiritual declension.’
    • ‘The present is thus perceived as that period of declension that is the subject of the jeremiad.’
    • ‘The author is careful not to mock nineteenth century religious sensibilities, nor to denounce commercialization as an example of declension.’
    • ‘Both authors chronicle the rise and declension of rural Illinois communities and directly address the social/market debate that has invigorated the field of rural history.’



/dəˈklen(t)SH(ə)n/ /dəˈklɛn(t)ʃ(ə)n/


Late Middle English declinson, from Old French declinaison, from decliner ‘to decline’. The change in the ending was probably due to association with words such as ascension.