Etymology
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decay (v.)

late 15c., "to decrease," also "to decline, deteriorate, lose strength or excellence," from Anglo-French decair, Old North French decair (Old French decheoir, 12c., Modern French déchoir) "to fall, set (of the sun), weaken, decline, decay," from Vulgar Latin *decadere "to fall off," from de "off" (see de-) + Latin cadere "to fall" (from PIE root *kad- "to fall").

Transitive sense of "cause to deteriorate, cause to become unsound or impaired" is from 1530s. Sense of "decompose, rot" is from 1570s. Related: Decayed; decaying.

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alpha (n.)
c. 1300, from Latin alpha, from Greek alpha, from Hebrew or Phoenician aleph (see aleph). The Greeks added -a because Greek words cannot end in most consonants. Sense of "beginning of anything" is from late 14c., often paired with omega (the last letter in the Greek alphabet, representing "the end"); sense of "first in a sequence" is from 1620s. In astronomy, the designation of the brightest star of each constellation (the use of Greek letters in star names began with Bayer's atlas in 1603). Alpha male was in use by c. 1960 among scientists studying animals; applied to humans in society from c. 1992.
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decay (n.)

mid-15c., "deterioration, decline in value, gradual loss of soundness or perfection," from decay (v.). Obsolete or archaic in reference to fortune or property; meaning "decomposition of organic tissue" is from 1590s. In physics, the meaning "gradual decrease in radioactivity" is by 1897.

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a- (3)
prefix meaning "not, without," from Greek a-, an- "not" (the "alpha privative"), from PIE root *ne- "not" (source also of English un-).

In words from Greek, such as abysmal, adamant, amethyst; also partly nativized as a prefix of negation (asexual, amoral, agnostic). The ancient alpha privatum, denoting want or absence.

Greek also had an alpha copulativum, a- or ha-, expressing union or likeness, which is the a- expressing "together" in acolyte, acoustic, Adelphi, etc. It is from PIE root *sem- (1) "one; as one, together with."
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putrescence (n.)

"a putrid state; tendency to decay," 1640s, from Latin putrescentem (nominative putrescens), present participle of putrescere "grow rotten, molder, decay," inchoative of putrere "be rotten" (see putrid). Related: Putrescency.

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beta (n.)

second letter of the Greek alphabet, c. 1300, from Greek, from Hebrew/Phoenician beth (see alphabet); used to designate the second of many things. Beta radiation is from 1899 (Rutherford). Beta particle is attested from 1904. Beta male, pejorative term for a risk-avoidant, non-confrontational man perceived as a follower or supporter rather than a leader, is by 2005, transferred from zoology (birds, primates), where it is attested by 1962 (compare alpha male under alpha).

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decadence (n.)

1540s, "deteriorated condition, decay," from French décadence (early 15c.), from Medieval Latin decadentia "decay," from decadentem (nominative decadens) "decaying," present participle of decadere "to decay," from Latin de- "apart, down" (see de-) + cadere "to fall" (from PIE root *kad- "to fall"). Meaning "process of falling away from a better or more vital state" is from 1620s. Used of periods in art since 1852, on French model.

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carious (adj.)
"decayed" (of tooth or bone), 1670s, from French carieux (16c.), from Latin cariosus "full of decay," from caries "rottenness, decay" (see caries). Extended sense of "having a corroded appearance" is by 1832.
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Vega (n.)
1638, bright northern star, the alpha of Lyra, from Arabic (Al Nasr) al Waqi translated variously as "the eagle of the desert" or "the falling vulture" (or bird).
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non-perishable (adj.)

also nonperishable, "not subject to rapid decay or deterioration," 1887, from non- + perishable.

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