Decay vs Fester - What's the difference?

decay | fester |

As verbs the difference between decay and fester

is that decay is to deteriorate, to get worse, to lose strength or health, to decline in quality while fester is to become septic; to become rotten.

As a noun decay

is the process or result of being gradually decomposed.



(wikipedia decay)


  • The process or result of being gradually decomposed.
  • * 1895 , H. G. Wells, The Time Machine Chapter X
  • I fancied at first the stuff was paraffin wax, and smashed the jar accordingly. But the odor of camphor was unmistakable. It struck me as singularly odd, that among the universal decay , this volatile substance had chanced to survive, perhaps through many thousand years.
  • A deterioration of condition.
  • Derived terms

    * bacterial decay * decayability * decayable * decayer * orbital decay * particle decay * radioactive decay


    (en verb)
  • To deteriorate, to get worse, to lose strength or health, to decline in quality.
  • The pair loved to take pictures in the decaying hospital on forty-third street.
  • # (intransitive, electronics, of storage media or the data on them) To undergo , that is, gradual degradation.
  • # (intransitive, computing, of software) To undergo , that is, to fail to be updated in a changing environment,so as to eventually become legacy or obsolete.
  • # (intransitive, physics, of a satellite's orbit) To undergo prolonged reduction in altitude (above the orbited body).
  • 2009 , Francis Lyall, Paul B. Larsen, Space Law: A Treatise , page 120:
  • Damaged on lift-off, Skylab was left in orbit until its orbit decayed .
  • (of organic material) To rot, to go bad.
  • The cat's body decayed rapidly.
  • (intransitive, transitive, physics, chemistry, of an unstable atom) To change by undergoing fission, by emitting radiation, or by capturing or losing one or more electrons.
  • * 2005 , Encyclopedia of Earth Science (edited by Timothy M. Kusky; ISBN 0-8160-4973-4), page 349:
  • Uranium decays to radium through a long series of steps with a cumulative half-life of 4.4 billion years.
  • (intransitive, transitive, physics, of a quantum system) To undergo , that is, to relax to a less excited state, usually by emitting a photon or phonon.
  • (aviation)
  • To cause to rot or deteriorate.
  • The extreme humidity decayed the wooden sculptures in the museum's collection in a matter of years.
  • * Shakespeare
  • Infirmity, that decays the wise.




    (en verb)
  • To become septic; to become rotten.
  • * Milton
  • Wounds immedicable / Rankle, and fester , and gangrene.
  • To worsen, especially due to lack of attention.
  • Deal with the problem immediately; do not let it fester .
  • * Macaulay
  • Hatred festered in the hearts of the children of the soil.
  • To cause to fester or rankle.
  • * Marston
  • For which I burnt in inward, swelt'ring hate, / And fester'd rankling malice in my breast.


    * ----