Wearing a cast on a broken leg can cause atrophy, or withering, in the leg, because it is immobilized and gets no exercise.

Appearing in English in the 17th century, the word atrophy originally described a lack of nourishment. Atrophy occurs in parts of the body that can't move or be "fed" because of disease or injury. It also is used to describe things that go dull through lack of use, like skills in sports or artistic creativity. The (unrelated) word "trophy" refers to something that sits on a shelf and is admired, while atrophy is a condition of being "shelved," or made inactive and lifeless.

Definitions of atrophy

n a decrease in size of an organ caused by disease or disuse

wasting, wasting away
show 4 types...
hide 4 types...
amyotrophia, amyotrophy
progressive wasting of muscle tissues
wasting of the body during a chronic disease
atrophy and shriveling of the skin or mucous membrane
kraurosis vulvae
kraurosis of the vulva; often a precancerous lesion
Type of:
(medicine) any sensation or change in bodily function that is experienced by a patient and is associated with a particular disease

n any weakening or degeneration (especially through lack of use)

Type of:
becoming weaker

v undergo atrophy

“Muscles that are not used will atrophy
Type of:
shrink, shrivel, shrivel up, wither
wither, as with a loss of moisture

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.