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See also: accrétion



Borrowed from Latin accrētiō, from ad (to) + crēscō (grow). First attested in the 1610s. Compare crescent, increase, accrue, and so on.


  • (US) enPR: ŭkrēshən, IPA(key): /ə.ˈkɹi.ʃən/
    • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːʃən


accretion (countable and uncountable, plural accretions)

  1. The act of increasing by natural growth; especially the increase of organic bodies by the internal accession of parts; organic growth.
  2. The act of increasing, or the matter added, by an accession of parts externally; an extraneous addition.
    an accretion of earth
    A mineral augments not by growth, but by accretion.
    • 1849 October 20, Nathaniel Parker Willis, “Death of Edgar Poe”, in Home Journal[1]:
      Suddenly starting from a proposition, exactly and sharply defined, in terms of utmost simplicity and clearness, he rejected the forms of customary logic, and by a crystalline process of accretion, built up his ocular demonstrations in forms of gloomiest and ghastliest grandeur, []
    • 1855, George Cornewall Lewis, An Enquiry Into the Credibility of the Early Roman History:
      To strip off all the subordinate parts of his as a later accretion
    • 1891, Amelia Gere Mason, The Women of the French Salons[2]:
      Our social life is largely a form, a whirl, a commercial relation, a display, a duty, the result of external accretion, not of internal growth.
    • 1891, Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d’Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to III), London: James R[ipley] Osgood, McIlvaine and Co., [], →OCLC:
      She had no fear of the shadows; her sole idea seemed to be to shun mankind—or rather that cold accretion called the world, which, so terrible in the mass, is so unformidable, even pitiable, in its units.
    • 1910, Jack London, Burning Daylight[3]:
      Two-story log buildings, in the business part of town, brought him from forty to fifty thousand dollars apiece. These fresh accretions of capital were immediately invested in other ventures.
    • 2012 March 16, Edward Tenner, “Why Wikipedia's Fans Shouldn't Gloat”, in The Atlantic[4]:
      Written by accretion rather than from a single author's interpretation Wikipedia has a neo-positivist mania for facts that devalues interpretation in depth, yet in matching Friedrich's review against Nabokov it also shows that it is far from neutral.
    • 2018, Shoshana Zuboff, chapter 12, in The Age of Surveillance Capitalism:
      The systematic accretion of violence and complicity that engulfed whole populations at extreme velocity invoked a kind of bewilderment that ended in paralysis, even for many of the greatest minds of the twentieth century.
  3. Something added externally to promote the external growth of an item.
    (Can we add an example for this sense?)
  4. Concretion; coherence of separate particles.
    the accretion of particles to form a solid mass
  5. (biology) A growing together of parts naturally separate, as of the fingers or toes.
  6. (geology) The gradual increase of land by deposition of water-borne sediment.
  7. (law) The adhering of property to something else, by which the owner of one thing becomes possessed of a right to another; generally, gain of land by the washing up of sand or soil from the sea or a river, or by a gradual recession of the water from the usual watermark.
  8. (law) Gain to an heir or legatee; failure of a coheir to the same succession, or a co-legatee of the same thing, to take his share percentage.
  9. (astrophysics) The formation of planets and other bodies by collection of material through gravity.
    • 2018 April 26, Alexandra Witze, quoting Michiel Lambrechts, “Earth May Have Been Formed by a Bunch of Tiny Space Pebbles”, in The Atlantic[5]:
      “In many ways, pebble accretion is the most efficient way of adding mass to a body,” says Lambrechts.
  10. (conservation) Built-up matter lying on top of, rather than embedded in, a surface.
    • 2012, American Institute for Conservation Wiki[6]:
      "Conservators may choose to leave accretions on an object for the additional details it may provide about an objects use, importance or history."


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