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at·ro·phy / ˈatrəfē/ • v. (-phies, -phied) [intr.] (of body tissue or an organ) waste away, typically due to the degeneration of cells, or become vestigial during evolution: without exercise, the muscles will atrophy | [as adj.] (atrophied) in some beetles, the hind wings are atrophied. ∎ fig. gradually decline in effectiveness or vigor due to underuse or neglect: her artistic skills atrophied from lack of use. • n. the condition or process of atrophying: gastric atrophy. ∎ fig. the gradual decline of effectiveness or vigor due to underuse or neglect: extensive TV viewing may lead to atrophy of children's imaginations. DERIVATIVES: a·troph·ic / āˈtrōfik; āˈträfik/ adj.

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atrophydaffy, taffy •Amalfi •Cavafy, Gaddafi •Effie •beefy, Fifi, leafy •cliffy, iffy, jiffy, Liffey, niffy, sniffy, spiffy, squiffy, stiffy, whiffy •salsify •coffee, toffee •wharfie •Sophie, strophe, trophy •Dufy, goofy, Sufi •fluffy, huffy, puffy, roughie, roughy, scruffy, snuffy, stuffy, toughie •comfy • atrophy •anastrophe, catastrophe •calligraphy, epigraphy, tachygraphy •dystrophy, epistrophe •autobiography, bibliography, biography, cardiography, cartography, chirography, choreography, chromatography, cinematography, cosmography, cryptography, demography, discography, filmography, geography, hagiography, historiography, hydrography, iconography, lexicography, lithography, oceanography, orthography, palaeography (US paleography), photography, pornography, radiography, reprography, stenography, topography, typography •apostrophe •gymnosophy, philosophy, theosophy •furphy, murphy, scurfy, surfy, turfy

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atrophy The word comes from the Greek, meaning ‘ill-fed’. In biomedical terms it means wasting — loss of mass from a tissue or organ from whatever cause. It is used as a verb: muscles, for example, can atrophy with simple disuse; or as a noun (they undergo disuse atrophy); or, they become atrophied if their nerves are damaged, so that they can no longer be stimulated into action. Another type — closer to ‘ill-feeding’ — is ischaemic atrophy from deprivation of blood supply, such as may happen in parts of the brain after stroke or severe head injury, or in heart muscle in coronary artery disease. Atrophy also happens in the normal course of events to cells or tissues which have fulfilled their useful life (such as umbilical blood vessels after birth or ovaries after the menopause) or as cells die off progressively with age (as in kidneys and brain).

Sheila Jennett


See also dementia; muscle wasting.
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atrophy (at-rŏ-fi) n. the wasting away of a normally developed organ or tissue due to degeneration of cells. Pathological atrophy may occur through starvation, disuse, denervation, or ischaemia. muscular a. atrophy of muscular tissue associated with various diseases, such as poliomyelitis. See also multiple system atrophy, spinal muscular atrophy, Sudek's atrophy.

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atrophy wasting away of the body. XVII. — late L. atrophia — Gr. atrophíā, f. átrophos ill-nourished, f. A-4 + tréphein nourish.
So atrophied XVI. — F. atrophié.

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atrophy In medicine, shrinking or wastage of tissues or organs. It may be associated with disease, malnutrition, or, in the case of muscle atrophy, with disuse.

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atrophy Wasting of normally developed tissue or muscle as a result of disuse, ageing, or under‐nutrition.

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atrophy Of a structure, limb, organ, tissue, etc., to diminish in size.

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atrophy Of a structure, limb, organ, tissue, etc., to diminish in size.

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atrophy The degeneration or withering of an organ or part of the body.

atrophy

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