Thursday, 28 August 2014

Decadence - The Way of Decay

The decadence of The Galactic Empire
(photo by Kenny Louie)


Noun. Mid-16th century.
[French d├ęcadence, from medieval Latin decadentia, from decadent- present participial stem of Proto-Romance verb whence DECAY verb.]

The process of falling away or declining (from a state of excellence, vitality, prosperity, etc.);
decadent condition, decay, deterioration, specifically of a particular period in art, literature, etc., after a culmination.

I like the word decadence. I like how it's often used to simply mean 'shameless luxury', whether or not that luxury is truly decadent, and I like how I decadently like that use of decadent. I like how one can be decadent in a just about anything; perhaps there could even be a decadence of evil, where villains tire of all the effort it takes to be truly bad and gradually drift toward a more neutral morality. I like the concept of decadence and decay; I like how, in decline and breakdown, something new will inevitably rise, which may not be better, but it will at least be different.

Feel free to comment on my decadent ramble in the comment box below.


  1. And I love how it sounds in French! ;) Its Greek equivalent is one of the words I use very often to express my dislike about something (which is pretty often, snobbish person as I am).

    Hope you're doing well! I 've missed some posts but I'll try to catch up this weekend.

    1. I decided while writing this post that I don't use it enough. It's time to put 'decadence' into my arsenal of snobbery!

  2. I can't help feeling your ramble missed a big question about decadence: Does "deca" indicate "ten" somewhere in the history of that word?

    Since "'decimate" used to mean "decrease by one tenth" and decadence has to do with falling away or declining, why did you stop the etymology by saying "Proto-Romance verb" without naming that verb and completing the etymology?

    1. Hi Ernie.

      The etymology is taken directly from the Shorter OED - I haven't added or taken anything away from it. However, 'decadent' and 'deca' have nothing to do with each other - 'decadent' is literally from 'de' (down) and 'cadere' (to fall), whereas words like 'decimate' come from 'deka' (ten). I covered this in another of my rambles in my post on the English prefix 'deca'. You can read that by clicking here.

      Thanks for your comment!