decompose

The verb decompose means to break down or decay, like tree leaves that decompose into dirt, or cell phone batteries that decompose, resulting in more frequent charging for the user.

You know that the prefix de- means "remove" or "undo." And something that's composed is made up of parts. So to decompose is to undo all the parts until they go back to their original state: dirt. Living things decompose. When things like buildings or organizations break down, you typically use words like dismantle or deconstruct to describe the process.

Primary Meanings of decompose

1.
v
break down
2.
v
lose a stored charge, magnetic flux, or current
Full Definitions of decompose
1

v break down

“The bodies decomposed in the heat”
Synonyms:
molder, moulder, rot
Types:
biodegrade
break down naturally through the action of biological agents
hang
suspend (meat) in order to get a gamey taste
Type of:
decay
undergo decay or decomposition

v separate (substances) into constituent elements or parts

Synonyms:
break down, break up
Types:
digest
soften or disintegrate by means of chemical action, heat, or moisture
dissociate
to undergo a reversible or temporary breakdown of a molecule into simpler molecules or atoms
crack
reduce (petroleum) to a simpler compound by cracking
Type of:
separate
divide into components or constituents
2

v lose a stored charge, magnetic flux, or current

Synonyms:
decay, disintegrate
disintegrate
cause to undergo fission or lose particles
Type of:
change integrity
change in physical make-up

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