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

  • noun The act of wearing away by friction.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A wearing off; the act of wearing away.

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

  • noun A wearing off or away.

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

  • noun attrition; erosion by friction

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

  • noun effort expended in moving one object over another with pressure
  • noun erosion by friction
  • noun the wearing down of rock particles by friction due to water or wind or ice


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

[Medieval Latin dētrītiō, dētrītiōn-, from Latin dētrītus, past participle of dēterere, to lessen, rub away; see detriment.]


  • The reason for their growth, as a final cause, is their function, for they would soon be worn down if there were not some means of saving them; even as it is they are altogether worn down in old age in some animals which eat much and have not large teeth, their growth not being in proportion to their detrition.

    On the Generation of Animals

  • The site or lie of the city is principally in two hollow basins, in which the detrition of houses forms now a soil for grain, for fruit gardens and good tobacco.

    Byeways in Palestine

  • Mr. Jukes Brown, whom I have just quoted, says: “The Wold hills must have been, in some way, exposed to a severe and long-continued detrition, when erosive agencies were very active.”

    Records of Woodhall Spa and Neighbourhood Historical, Anecdotal, Physiographical, and Archaeological, with Other Matter

  • We can easily see that the growth of the soil formed by the decay and detrition of the stone slabs of the pyramids, temples, and other buildings would be slow, especially as the rainfall is light.

    The Prehistoric World; or, Vanished races

  • Neither have I indulged in any flights of the imagination in depicting the horrible, but rather subdued the poignancy of the original; particularly in the case of the murder, which in my hands has received considerable detrition.

    Fern Vale (Volume 1) or the Queensland Squatter

  • Nowadays it has become the custom to place these slabs upright against the walls, thus preventing further detrition.

    Donatello, by Lord Balcarres

  • And when, a hundred years hence, some antiquary reads this story in a number of the "Omaha Intelligencer," which has escaped the detrition of the thirty-six thousand days and nights, he will say, --

    The Brick Moon, and Other Stories

  • Another is the constant repetition of certain words and phrases which have lost their meaning by detrition and are known to all.

    American Sketches 1908

  • There is the gradual invisible detrition of rings upon the finger, of stones hollowed out by dripping water, of the ploughshare in the field, and the flags upon the streets, and the brazen statues of the gods whose fingers men kiss as they pass the gates, and the rocks that the salt sea-brine eats into along the shore.

    A Short History of Greek Philosophy

  • The banks of the Mississippi at this place, and for a thousand miles above and below, are elevated but a few feet above the surface level of its water; and, in consequence of the continuous detrition, it is no uncommon occurrence for large slips to give way, and be swept off in the red whirling current.

    The Quadroon Adventures in the Far West


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