Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To make slender, fine, or small.
  • intransitive verb To reduce in force, value, amount, or degree; weaken.
  • intransitive verb To lessen the density of; rarefy.
  • intransitive verb Biology To make (bacteria or viruses) less virulent.
  • intransitive verb Electronics To reduce (the amplitude of an electrical signal) with little or no distortion.
  • intransitive verb To become thin, weak, or fine.
  • adjective Reduced or weakened, as in strength, value, or virulence.
  • adjective Botany Gradually tapering to a slender point.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Slender; thin.
  • In botany, tapering gradually to a narrow extremity.
  • Of thin consistency; dilute; rarefied.
  • To make thin or slender; reduce in thickness; wear or draw down: as, an attenuated thread or wire.
  • To reduce by comminution or attrition; make small or fine: as, extremely attenuated particles of dust or flour.
  • To make thin or rare; reduce in density; increase the fluidity or rarity of.
  • To lessen in complexity or intensity; reduce in strength or energy; simplify; weaken: as, the attenuated remedies of the homeopathists.
  • Figuratively, to weaken or reduce in force, effect, or value; render meager or jejune; fine down.
  • To lessen; diminish: said of number. Howell.
  • To become thin, slender, or fine; diminish; lessen.
  • In brewing and distilling, to undergo the process of attenuation. See attenuation, 4.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Made thin or slender.
  • adjective Made thin or less viscid; rarefied.
  • intransitive verb To become thin, slender, or fine; to grow less; to lessen.
  • transitive verb To make thin or slender, as by mechanical or chemical action upon inanimate objects, or by the effects of starvation, disease, etc., upon living bodies.
  • transitive verb To make thin or less consistent; to render less viscid or dense; to rarefy. Specifically: To subtilize, as the humors of the body, or to break them into finer parts.
  • transitive verb To lessen the amount, force, or value of; to make less complex; to weaken.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive To reduce in size, force, value, amount, or degree.
  • verb transitive To make thinner, as by physically reshaping, starving, or decaying.
  • verb transitive To weaken.
  • verb transitive To rarefy.
  • verb transitive, medicine To reduce the virulence of a bacteria or virus.
  • verb transitive, electronics To reduce the amplitude of an electrical signal.
  • adjective botany, of leaves Gradually tapering into a petiole-like extension toward the base.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb weaken the consistency of (a chemical substance)
  • adjective reduced in strength
  • verb become weaker, in strength, value, or magnitude

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Latin attenuāre, attenuāt- : ad-, ad- + tenuāre, to make thin (from tenuis, thin; see ten- in Indo-European roots).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin attenuāre, from attenuāt-, at- = ad-, ad- ("to") + tenuāre ("to make thin"), tenuis ("thin").

Examples

  • This being correctly guessed to represent "attenuate" (at ten you ate), the other side goes from the room and the previous performers become the audience.

    Entertainments for Home, Church and School

  • Although the United States "has done as good a job as it could have" in trying to make the ANA mirror the broader society, Mason said, it can only "attenuate" rather than prevent such a war in the future, even with a larger troop presence.

    WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

  • Although the United States "has done as good a job as it could have" in trying to make the ANA mirror the broader society, Mason said, it can only "attenuate" rather than prevent such a war in the future, even with a larger troop presence.

    WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

  • Although the United States "has done as good a job as it could have" in trying to make the ANA mirror the broader society, Mason said, it can only "attenuate" rather than prevent such a war in the future, even with a larger troop presence.

    WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

  • Would my contributions be more palatable were I to attenuate the libertarianism?

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Is the Sixth Now the “Most Reversed” Circuit?

  • Rob Pegoraro: Most of the walls in my house are also plaster over lathe--it's a real treat to have to cut into that to move an electrical outlet--but I haven't seen that attenuate WiFi that much.

    Personal Tech Live with Rob Pegoraro

  • Reforming divorce laws likely would attenuate the divorce rate as well as the risks inherent to later births with new partners.

    Old Birth Patterns Had Advantages

  • Yet, Dr. Maalouf doesn't rule out the rise of new 'media barons' as he argues that "control by the rich and powerful is inescapable in a capitalist system" while hoping that social networks and the Internet in general help attenuate the problem.

    Faisal J. Abbas: Is This the End of the "Establishment Media" in Egypt?

  • This piece, one in a series referencing visual artists, is largely centered on a marimba the performer plays in non-standard ways that allow him to attenuate the sound either by direct dampening with the hands or using atypical mallets for the job.

    Bang on a Piano All-Stars

  • This is usually what happens when Congress does not have the will to enact laws that are prophylactic in nature or attenuate the problem before it becomes a crisis.

    Think Progress » Health Care Industry Front Group Cheers Death Of The Public Option With Large Washington Post Ad

Comments

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  • He saw plainly that he was doomed to grow ever feebler and that each day that passed would attenuate his hold on life.

    Donald Keene, The Diaries of Masaoka Shiki

    November 19, 2011