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

  • n. A rubbing away or wearing down by friction.
  • n. A gradual diminution in number or strength because of constant stress.
  • n. A gradual, natural reduction in membership or personnel, as through retirement, resignation, or death.
  • n. Repentance for sin motivated by fear of punishment rather than by love of God.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. wearing or grinding down by friction
  • n. the gradual reduction in a tangible or intangible resource due to causes that are passive and do not involve productive use of the resource.
  • n. A gradual, natural reduction in membership or personnel, as through retirement, resignation, or death
  • n. The loss of participants during an experiment
  • n. Imperfect contrition or remorse

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of rubbing together; friction; the act of wearing by friction, or by rubbing substances together; abrasion.
  • n. The state of being worn.
  • n. Grief for sin arising only from fear of punishment or feelings of shame. See Contrition.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The rubbing of one thing against another; mutual friction: as, the abrasion of coins by attrition.
  • n. The act of wearing away by rubbing; the state of being worn down or smoothed by friction; abrasion.
  • n. In theology, imperfect contrition or repentance, with real detestation of sin, and a true purpose of amendment, arising from those supernatural motives of faith which are lower than charity, or the true love of God for his own infinite perfections.

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

  • n. sorrow for sin arising from fear of damnation
  • n. a wearing down to weaken or destroy
  • n. the wearing down of rock particles by friction due to water or wind or ice
  • n. erosion by friction
  • n. the act of rubbing together; wearing something down by friction


Middle English attricioun, regret, breaking, from Old French attrition, abrasion, from Late Latin attrītiō, attrītiōn-, act of rubbing against, from Latin attrītus, past participle of atterere, to rub against : ad-, against; see ad- + terere, to rub; see terə-1 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin attritio ("a rubbing against"), from the verb attritus, past participle of atterere ("to wear"), from ad- ("to, towards") + terere ("to rub"). (Wiktionary)



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  • "Bartenders at Fangtasia didn't tend to last long. Eric and Pam always tried to hire someone colorful--an exotic bartender drew in the human tourists who came by the busloads to take a walk on the wild side--and in this they were successful. But somehow the job had acquired a high attrition rate."-Dead as a Doornail, by Charlaine Harris

    May 19, 2011