Meaning of "decay"

Dear Teachers,

I don’t understand what “decay” refers to in:

“For her comfort we kept away the worms and the beetles. One of us sat near her shoulder and brushed dacay away.”

Hi all potted out,

Your sentence is not easy to understand without knowing the general context. Decay usually means something rotten or falling apart. You can find decay in a tooth where the original part of a tooth is rotten and falling apart. Materials left out in the open air for a period of time will also show signs of decay. Wood for example if it is not protected with some kind of paint will have decay in it where the wood turns to powder and starts to break up.


Hi, Alan,

Thanks for your reply. About its context, basically it’s a fictional story that alludes to Snow White. And my sentence comes from the passage where the girl fainted at the door of the seven dwarfs. “Her comfort” is the girl’s comfort and “we” are the seven dwarfs. Following the sentence that confuses me is “It was likely that she slept three, perhaps four years, before she stirred…”.
I find it pretty weird if they were trying to brush her tooth decay away when attending her. But can’t figure out what else they could brush for…

Hi apo

Everything tends to decay to one degree or another over time. :wink:

As I see it, either the dwarfs in fact brushed Snow White’s teeth all those years OR the word decay simply refers to dust, bits of debris, etc. (which would certainly tend to collect on something that remained immobile for such a long period of time). But, “brush decay away” could just generally mean that the dwarfs kept Snow White neat and clean.