conjugate : verb :: decline : noun

Declining is what you do to a noun to make it fit its role in a sentence. By "role," I specifically mean a case. Depending on how a noun is used in a sentence, one alters its declination to reflect the appropriate case, usually by selecting the appropriate ending. The number of cases that require different declinations vary by language. English, for example, does not decline. In each of the following sentences, the same form of the word "dog" is used, despite the fact that it has a different case in each one.

  1. The dog is stupid.
  2. I see the dog.
  3. I talk about the dog.
  4. It is cold to the dog.
  5. I eat the dog's ass.
  6. I work by means of my dog.

(I apologize for the somewhat contrived nonsensical sentences. Unfortunately, my vocabulary is rather weak.)

However, here are those sentences translated to Russian (and then transliterated, roughly, into a non-Cyrillic character set). Note how the ending on "sabaka" changes in each sentence.

  1. Sabaka -- gloopaya.
  2. Ya veeju sabakoo.
  3. Ya govaryu o sabakye.
  4. Sabakye xolodno.
  5. Ya yem jopoo sabakee.
  6. Ya rabotoo sabakoy.

The above sentences illustrate the six case declinations in Russian:

  1. Nominative: the subject of a sentence.
  2. Accusative: the object of a verb.
  3. Prepositional: the subject of a preposition.
  4. Dative: the indirect object.
  5. Genitive: possession.
  6. Instrumental: being used as a tool or means.

Please note that all languages have cases. However, only some languages recognize this fact by way of declension. If you've learned nothing else from this write-up, you've learned how to say "I eat the dog's ass" in Russian.

I understand Latin has an even more complex case system, but I feel ill-equipped to comment on it.

De*cline" (?), v. i. [imp. & p. p. Declined (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Declining.] [OE. declinen to bend down, lower, sink, decline (a noun), F. d'ecliner to decline, refuse, fr. L. declinare to turn aside, inflect (a part of speech), avoid; de- + clinare to incline; akin to E. lean. See Lean, v. i.]

1.

To bend, or lean downward; to take a downward direction; to bend over or hang down, as from weakness, weariness, despondency, etc.; to condescend.

"With declining head."

Shak.

He . . . would decline even to the lowest of his family. Lady Hutchinson.

Disdaining to decline, Slowly he falls, amidst triumphant cries. Byron.

The ground at length became broken and declined rapidly. Sir W. Scott.

2.

To tend or draw towards a close, decay, or extinction; to tend to a less perfect state; to become diminished or impaired; to fail; to sink; to diminish; to lessen; as, the day declines; virtue declines; religion declines; business declines.

That empire must decline Whose chief support and sinews are of coin. Waller.

And presume to know . . . Who thrives, and who declines. Shak.

3.

To turn or bend aside; to deviate; to stray; to withdraw; as, a line that declines from straightness; conduct that declines from sound morals.

Yet do I not decline from thy testimonies. Ps. cxix. 157.

4.

To turn away; to shun; to refuse; -- the opposite of accept or consent; as, he declined, upon principle.

 

© Webster 1913.


De*cline", v. t.

1.

To bend downward; to bring down; to depress; to cause to bend, or fall.

In melancholy deep, with head declined. Thomson.

And now fair Phoebus gan decline in haste His weary wagon to the western vale. Spenser.

2.

To cause to decrease or diminish.

[Obs.] "You have declined his means."

Beau. & Fl.

He knoweth his error, but will not seek to decline it. Burton.

3.

To put or turn aside; to turn off or away from; to refuse to undertake or comply with; reject; to shun; to avoid; as, to decline an offer; to decline a contest; he declined any participation with them.

Could I Decline this dreadful hour? Massinger.

4. Gram.

To inflect, or rehearse in order the changes of grammatical form of; as, to decline a noun or an adjective.

⇒ Now restricted to such words as have case inflections; but formerly it was applied both to declension and conjugation.

After the first declining of a noun and a verb. Ascham.

5.

To run through from first to last; to repeat like a schoolboy declining a noun.

[R.]

Shak.

 

© Webster 1913.


De*cline" (?), n. [F. d'eclin. See Decline, v. i.]

1.

A falling off; a tendency to a worse state; diminution or decay; deterioration; also, the period when a thing is tending toward extinction or a less perfect state; as, the decline of life; the decline of strength; the decline of virtue and religion.

Their fathers lived in the decline of literature. Swift.

2. Med.

That period of a disorder or paroxysm when the symptoms begin to abate in violence; as, the decline of a fever.

3.

A gradual sinking and wasting away of the physical faculties; any wasting disease, esp. pulmonary consumption; as, to die of a decline.

Dunglison.

Syn. -- Decline, Decay, Consumption. Decline marks the first stage in a downward progress; decay indicates the second stage, and denotes a tendency to ultimate destruction; consumption marks a steady decay from an internal exhaustion of strength. The health may experience a decline from various causes at any period of life; it is naturally subject to decay with the advance of old age; consumption may take place at almost any period of life, from disease which wears out the constitution. In popular language decline is often used as synonymous with consumption. By a gradual decline, states and communities lose their strength and vigor; by progressive decay, they are stripped of their honor, stability, and greatness; by a consumption of their resources and vital energy, they are led rapidly on to a completion of their existence.

 

© Webster 1913.

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