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Decadent vs. Degenerate — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Published on December 3, 2023
Decadent refers to excessive indulgence or luxury, often with moral decline, while Degenerate means having declined from a former state, especially in moral quality.
Decadent vs. Degenerate — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Decadent and Degenerate

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Key Differences

Decadent emphasizes luxurious self-indulgence, often pointing to a decline in standards, whereas Degenerate directly pertains to the loss of qualities or deterioration from a prior state.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023
When describing food, art, or culture, Decadent typically implies something rich, extravagant, or overly indulgent. In contrast, Degenerate is rarely used in such contexts and leans towards describing moral or ethical decline.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023
It's interesting to note that Decadent can occasionally have a positive connotation, especially when emphasizing sumptuousness or richness. However, Degenerate consistently holds a negative connotation, indicating degradation or inferiority.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023
If someone labels a dessert as Decadent, they're often referring to its rich and indulgent taste. On the other hand, calling a person Degenerate would imply they've morally or ethically deteriorated.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023
Over time, societies might deem certain behaviors as Decadent due to perceived excessive indulgence. Yet, labeling a society or its members as Degenerate implies a broader and deeper decline in values or character.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Definition

Luxurious self-indulgence, often implying decline
Having deteriorated, especially in terms of moral quality
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023

Typical Usage

Often used for food, art, or culture
Primarily pertains to moral, ethical, or physical decline
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023

Connotation

Can be positive (luxurious) or negative (moral decline)
Almost always negative
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Dec 03, 2023

Relation to Morality

Sometimes suggests moral decline due to indulgence
Directly indicates moral or ethical deterioration
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Dec 03, 2023

Common Contexts

Art, culture, food
Individual character, genetics, society
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023

Compare with Definitions

Decadent

Relating to a state of cultural or moral decline.
Some saw the wild parties as evidence of a Decadent society.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 17, 2023

Degenerate

Having declined, especially in terms of moral or ethical quality.
He worried that his habits would make him seem Degenerate.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 17, 2023

Decadent

Reflecting or characterized by excessive indulgence or luxury.
The Decadent chocolate cake melted in her mouth.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 17, 2023

Degenerate

Relating to or being a degenerate person.
He was labeled a Degenerate by those who disapproved of his lifestyle.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 17, 2023

Decadent

Overly ornate or sumptuous.
The Decadent furnishings in the mansion were a sight to behold.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 17, 2023

Degenerate

Deteriorated or inferior to a former state or quality.
The abandoned house was in a Degenerate condition.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 17, 2023

Decadent

Characterized by or appealing to self-indulgence.
The spa offered a Decadent day of pampering and relaxation.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 17, 2023

Degenerate

Lacking in desirable qualities or characteristics.
The discussions quickly turned into Degenerate arguments.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 17, 2023

Decadent

Being in a state of decline or decay.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

Having declined, as in function or nature, from a former or original state
A degenerate form of an ancient folk art.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Decadent

Marked by or providing unrestrained gratification; self-indulgent.
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Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

Morally corrupt or given to vice.
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Oct 12, 2023

Decadent

Often Decadent Of or relating to literary Decadence.
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Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

(Physics) Relating to two or more quantum states that share the same quantum numbers
Degenerate energy levels.
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Oct 12, 2023

Decadent

A person in a condition or process of mental or moral decay.
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Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

(Physics) Characterized by great density and consisting of atoms stripped of electrons
Degenerate matter.
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Oct 12, 2023

Decadent

Often Decadent A member of the Decadence movement.
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Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

(Medicine) Characterized by degeneration, as of tissue, a cell, or an organ.
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Oct 12, 2023

Decadent

Characterized by moral or cultural decline.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

(Biology) Having lost one or more highly developed functions, characteristics, or structures through evolution
A degenerate life form.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Decadent

Luxuriously self-indulgent.
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Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

(Genetics) Relating to or being a gene that has multiple codons for the same amino acid.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Decadent

A person affected by moral decay.
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Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

A depraved or corrupt person.
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Oct 12, 2023

Decadent

Decaying; deteriorating.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

To fall below a normal or desirable state, especially functionally or morally; deteriorate
Old water pipes that are degenerating with age.
A dispute that degenerated into a brawl.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Decadent

One that is decadent, or deteriorating; esp., one characterized by, or exhibiting, the qualities of those who are degenerating to a lower type; - specif. applied to a certain school of modern French writers.
The decadents and æsthetes, and certain types of realists.
The business men of a great State allow their State to be represented in Congress by "decadents".
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

To decline in quality
The quality of his writing degenerated as he continued to drink.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Decadent

A person who has fallen into a decadent state (morally or artistically)
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

To undergo degeneration.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Decadent

Marked by excessive self-indulgence and moral decay;
A decadent life of excessive money and no sense of responsibility
A group of effete self-professed intellectuals
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

(of qualities) Having deteriorated, degraded or fallen from normal, coherent, balanced and desirable to undesirable and typically abnormal; an immoral or corrupt person.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Decadent

Indicating a decline in standards, especially moral ones, due to indulgence.
Critics argued that the movie's portrayal of wealth was Decadent.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 17, 2023

Degenerate

(of a human or system) Having lost good or desirable qualities.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

(of an encoding or function) Having multiple domain elements correspond to one element of the range.
The codons.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

Having multiple different (linearly independent) eigenvectors.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

(physics) Having the same quantum energy level.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

One who is degenerate, who has fallen from previous stature.
In the cult of degenerates, acts of decency, kindness and modesty could be seen as acts of apostasy.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

(intransitive) To lose good or desirable qualities.
His condition continued to degenerate even after admission to hospital.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

(transitive) To cause to lose good or desirable qualities.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

Having become worse than one's kind, or one's former state; having declined in worth; having lost in goodness; deteriorated; degraded; unworthy; base; low.
Faint-hearted and degenerate king.
A degenerate and degraded state.
Degenerate from their ancient blood.
These degenerate days.
I had planted thee a noble vine . . . : how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

To be or grow worse than one's kind, or than one was originally; hence, to be inferior; to grow poorer, meaner, or more vicious; to decline in good qualities; to deteriorate.
When wit transgresseth decency, it degenerates into insolence and impiety.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

To fall off from the normal quality or the healthy structure of its kind; to become of a lower type.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

A person who has declined from a high standard, especially a sexual deviate; - usually used disparagingly or opprobriously of persons whose sexual behavior does not conform to the norms of accepted morals.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

A person or thing that has fallen from a higher to a lower state, or reverted to an earlier type or stage of development or culture.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

A person whose behavior deviates from what is acceptable especially in sexual behavior
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

Grow worse;
Her condition deteriorated
Conditions in the slums degenerated
The discussion devolved into a shouting match
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

Unrestrained by convention or morality;
Congreve draws a debauched aristocratic society
Deplorably dissipated and degraded
Riotous living
Fast women
Fiza Rafique
Oct 12, 2023

Degenerate

To fall below a desired or normal level.
Over time, the club began to Degenerate into chaos.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 17, 2023

Common Curiosities

Can art be described as Decadent?

Yes, art can be Decadent if it's seen as overly indulgent or reflecting decline.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023

How does Decadent differ from Degenerate in terms of indulgence?

Decadent emphasizes luxurious indulgence, while Degenerate denotes a decline, especially morally.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023

Would you describe a food as Degenerate?

No, Degenerate is rarely used for food. Decadent is more apt for rich or indulgent food.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023

How is Decadent linked to morality?

It can suggest a decline in moral standards due to excessive indulgence.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023

Can Decadent ever be used positively?

Yes, Decadent can indicate something luxuriously rich, like a dessert.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023

What is the primary focus of Degenerate?

Degenerate emphasizes a decline or deterioration, especially in moral quality.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023

Can a society be both Decadent and Degenerate?

Yes, if it's perceived as overly indulgent and also in moral or ethical decline.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023

Is Degenerate always used negatively?

Typically, yes. Degenerate indicates deterioration or decline, often morally.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023

Can a person be labeled Degenerate based on behavior?

Yes, someone can be labeled Degenerate if their behavior is seen as morally declined.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023

In what scenarios is Degenerate commonly used?

Often when discussing moral decline, deteriorating quality, or genetics.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023

Are Decadent and Degenerate synonyms?

No, while both can relate to decline, their nuances and applications differ significantly.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023

Can Decadent relate to physical attributes?

It's uncommon, but Decadent can describe something overly ornate or luxurious.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023

Which term, Decadent or Degenerate, is more linked to luxury?

Decadent is more associated with luxury and indulgence.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023

Is Degenerate used in genetics?

Yes, it can refer to a genetic sequence that has multiple forms.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023

How might Decadent be used in literature?

It could describe a setting, era, or character's indulgent lifestyle or moral decline.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 03, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at AskDifference.com, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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