- verb to refuse or to turn down an invitation or offer to do something
- verb to become less in numbers or amount
- noun a process of becoming less
- noun the final stage in the life cycle of a product when the sales and profitability are falling off and the product is no longer worth investing in
- noun the fact of going downwards or becoming less
Origin & History of “decline”
The notion underlying decline is of ‘bending away’. It comes via Old French decliner from Latin dēclināre ‘turn aside, go down’, a compound verb formed from the prefix dē-, ‘away, aside’ and clināre ‘bend’, which also produced English incline and recline and is related to lean. Its Latin nominal derivative dēclinātiō has bifurcated in English, to produce declination (14th c.) and, via Old French declinaison, declension (15th c.). The latter is used only in the specialized grammatical sense ‘set of inflectional endings of a noun’, already present in Latin, which derives from the concept that every inflected form of a word represents a ‘falling away’ from its uninflected base form (the same underlying notion appears in the term oblique case ‘any grammatical sense other than the nominative or vocative’, and indeed the word case itself, whose etymological meaning is ‘fall’; and there are perhaps traces of it in inflection, literally ‘bending’).