degradation-n; 3 Senses

Sense Number 1: process of decomposing or wearing down something

Commentary: DEGRADATION[+process][+breakdown][+geological/+functional/+chemical]
NOTE: implies an observable, measurable loss of integrity of form
NOTE: nominalization - sunlight's degradation of the fabric -> sunlight degraded the fabric

A sail cover protects your mainsail's fabric from degradation through sunlight.
The degradation of the enemy's air defense was achieved through deploying cruise missiles.
I've noticed a degradation in the speed of my Internet connection in the early evening.
The degradation of these granite mountains will take millions of years.

WordNet 3.0 Sense Numbers: 1

Sense Number 2: a social act of abasement

Commentary: DEGRADATION[+action][+social][+abasement]
NOTE: nominalization - 'their degradation of X' -> 'they degraded X'
NOTE: 'degradation of X' implies 'X' is patient/recipient of degradation by an agent Y

Their degradation of these prisoners was unlawful.
The degradations allegedly committed by her coworkers were largely in her mind.
The film documents the degradation of a great artist into alcoholism and poverty. (the process of entering the condition, note preposition 'into')

WordNet 3.0 Sense Numbers: 2

Sense Number 3: a state of social debasement

Commentary: DEGRADATION[+state][+social][+debased]
NOTE: describes an attribute of the context, not an action (Sense 2)
NOTE: 'degradation of X' implies 'degradation' is an attribute of state X

They were horrified at the poverty and degradation in which those children lived.
He lived with the degradation of his family's scandal.

WordNet 0.0 Sense Numbers: 2