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The word "rot" is used when something organic (alive) begins the process of decay. It’s similar to the word "spoil." When "rot" a verb, it looks like this:

past participle
  • Apples rot quickly when they fall from a tree.
  • When food rots, you have to throw it away.
  • Meat will rot if you don’t keep it refrigerated or frozen.
  • We watered the plant too often and the roots rotted.
  • Matt’s teeth are rotting because he doesn’t brush them regularly.
  • When wood begins to rot, it becomes an attractive home for insects.

tooth Your teeth will rot if you don’t take care of them.

You can also use "rot" as a noun:

  • There’s some rot on this apple.
  • Signs of rot on the outside of a wooden house should be addressed immediately.
  • The green rot on old bread is called mold.

As an adjective, you can use "rotten," "rotted," or "rotting."

  • When meat becomes rotten it really stinks.
  • There’s nothing worse than the smell of rotting meat.
  • Rotted banana peels outside the house indicate the owners don’t clean up after themselves.
  • That was a really rotten thing that he did to his girlfriend. (Behavior is often described as "rotten" if it’s really bad.)
  • This is a rotten situation. (It’s a bad situation.)

Now try this quick quiz:


The answers are below.

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1. rotten; 2. rot; 3. rotten; 4. rot; 5.

This page was first published on May 17, 2012. It was updated on January 21, 2016.

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