[Nuclear physics] An automatic conversion which is applied to most array-valued expressions in C; they "decay into" pointer-valued expressions pointing to the array's first element. This term is not used in the official standard for the language.

(01 Jul 2002)

To pass gradually from a sound, prosperous, or perfect state, to one of imperfection, adversity, or dissolution; to waste away; to decline; to fail; to become weak, corrupt, or disintegrated; to rot; to perish; as, a tree decays; fortunes decay; hopes decay. "Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates and men decay." (Goldsmith)

Origin: OF. Decaeir, dechaer, decheoir, F. Dechoir, to decline, fall, become less; L. De- + cadere to fall. See Chance.

1. Gradual failure of health, strength, soundness, prosperity, or of any species of excellence or perfection; tendency toward dissolution or extinction; corruption; rottenness; decline; deterioration; as, the decay of the body; the decay of virtue; the decay of the Roman empire; a castle in decay. "Perhaps my God, though he be far before, May turn, and take me by the hand, and more - May strengthen my decays." (Herbert) "His [Johnson's] failure was not to be ascribed to intellectual decay." (Macaulay) "Which has caused the decay of the consonants to follow somewhat different laws." (James Byrne)

2. Destruction; death.

3. Cause of decay. "He that plots to be the only figure among ciphers, is the decay of the whole age." (Bacon)

Synonyms: Decline, consumption. See Decline.

(01 Mar 1998)

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