Definition of decompose in English:


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  • 1(with reference to a dead body or other organic matter) make or become rotten; decay or cause to decay.

    with object ‘dead plant matter can be completely decomposed by microorganisms’
    • ‘leaves stuffed in plastic bags do not decompose’
    • ‘the body was badly decomposed’
    • ‘The body begins to decompose soon after it is buried.’
    • ‘It takes several weeks or longer, depending upon the size, for the body to completely decompose.’
    • ‘‘When a body decomposes in water, it becomes completely disfigured,’ he continues.’
    • ‘Her remains were so badly decomposed that no clear cause of death has been established, but South Yorkshire Police are treating her death as murder.’
    • ‘The remains were so badly decomposed, scientists were unable to establish a cause of death, and murder was not ruled out.’
    • ‘In those few hours the body had began to already decompose.’
    • ‘While a corpse would normally decompose completely during this time, it is understood the body was partially preserved in a ‘mummified’ state for some reason.’
    • ‘Vets said some bacteria could still spread after the body decomposes and could infect human beings as well as animals.’
    • ‘If there are badly decomposed or skeletal remains, we might be able to do facial reconstruction.’
    • ‘‘When buried,’ says Emily, ‘an animal's body decomposes at a very slow rate - it can take up to 30 years.’’
    • ‘Some 17 days passed before her badly decomposed body was found, 20 miles away.’
    • ‘The badly decomposed body of a man has been found in a reservoir at Ogden.’
    • ‘As these mulches slowly decompose, they provide organic matter which helps keep the soil loose.’
    • ‘Peatlands consist of layer upon layer of partially decomposed plant material.’
    • ‘Most of the hotel refuse consists of leftover food, which rapidly decomposes.’
    • ‘As the mulch decomposes in the summer heat, add more to maintain optimal mulch depth.’
    • ‘Leaves decompose quickly, which can turn water murky and even make it smelly.’
    • ‘Submerged leaves decompose quickly and can cause scummy bacteria to form.’
    • ‘The days when organic food conjured up images of overpriced vegetables decomposing before the eyes are well and truly over.’
    • ‘In addition to improving soil structure, decomposing compost will slowly release plant nutrients.’
    decay, rot, putrefy, go bad, go off, spoil, fester, perish, deteriorate, degrade, break down, break up, moulder
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    1. 1.1(with reference to a chemical compound) break down or cause to break down into component elements or simpler constituents.
      no object ‘many chemicals decompose rapidly under high temperature’
      • ‘When heated, it decomposes into calcium oxide and carbon dioxide gas.’
      • ‘Davy had developed a technique by which unusually stable compounds could be decomposed into their constituent elements.’
      • ‘All dioxins are very stable and unlike most other chemicals do not quickly decompose or break down in the environment.’
      • ‘Without catalysis, hydrogen peroxide decomposes slowly over time to form water and oxygen gas.’
      • ‘Nitriles can be decomposed by acids or alkalis to give the corresponding carboxylic acid or they can be reduced to give primary amines.’
      • ‘For this reason, demolition experts prefer to use explosive chemicals that contain molecules that readily decompose to form gases.’
      • ‘Nitric acid can be thermally decomposed to give water, nitrogen dioxide, and oxygen.’
      • ‘Glyphosate has little residual activity and is rapidly decomposed to organic components by microorganisms in the soil.’
      • ‘As hydrogen peroxide decomposes to oxygen and water, the resulting rate of the evolution of oxygen and I 2 vary periodically.’
      • ‘Oxyhemoglobin is a fairly unstable molecule that decomposes in the intercellular spaces to release free oxygen and hemoglobin.’
      • ‘When light strikes the film the silver halide decomposes to give silver.’
      • ‘Alcohol evaporates or is decomposed, so fermentation cannot be proven directly.’
      • ‘In acidic mixtures, such as many soft drinks, sucrose will chemically decompose over a period of time.’
      • ‘Regardless of whether it concerns volatile or solid substances, chemical explosives decompose into gas on detonation.’
      • ‘The most significant user is the glass industry, which uses sodium carbonate to decompose silicates for glass making.’
      • ‘Thus, two molecules of water have been decomposed into two molecules of hydrogen and one molecule of oxygen.’
      • ‘This water vapor can undergo a chemical change if enough additional heat is added, when it decomposes into oxygen gas and hydrogen gas.’
      • ‘Formic acid decomposes slowly at room temperature into carbon monoxide and Water.’
      • ‘Benzoyl peroxide rapidly decomposes into benzoic acid and hydrogen peroxide and is also safe.’
      • ‘Without catalysis, hydrogen peroxide decomposes slowly over time to form water and oxygen gas.’
      break up, break apart, fall apart, fragment, disintegrate, crumble, dissolve
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/ˌdēkəmˈpōz/ /ˌdikəmˈpoʊz/


Mid 18th century (in the sense ‘separate into simpler constituents’): from French décomposer, from de- (expressing reversal) + composer.