- a reduction or decrease in numbers, size, or strength: Our club has had a high rate of attrition because so many members have moved away.
- a wearing down or weakening of resistance, especially as a result of continuous pressure or harassment: The enemy surrounded the town and conducted a war of attrition.
- a gradual reduction in work force without firing of personnel, as when workers resign or retire and are not replaced.
- the act of rubbing against something; friction.
- a wearing down or away by friction; abrasion.
- Theology. imperfect contrition.See under contrition(def 2).
Origin of attrition
Examples from the Web for attrition
It is not a decisive war, with a single, signature victory, but a war of attrition.
But there is no consensus about what the attrition of ISIS looks like.
The past two months have been a war of attrition between the Hong Kong government and pro-democracy protestors.The Monuments Men of Occupy Hong Kong
December 4, 2014
Sen. Rand Paul has called for the “attrition if not an outright elimination of the IRS.”Huckabee: ‘A Tax Is Punishment’
September 29, 2014
Following the attrition of heavy industry in the 1980s, the income gap across the United Kingdom has grown substantially.Scotland’s ‘Yes’ Campaign and the Myth of Scottish Equality
September 18, 2014
They have not the attrition which wears away the angularities.Ireland as It Is
Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
Nothing has done us more harm than all this talk about "attrition."War Letters of a Public-School Boy
The difficulty was to overcome its susceptibility to attrition.Mizora: A Prophecy
Mary E. Bradley
I say that attrition with confession is necessary: he believes that contrition is necessary.Pascal
In what was to a great extent a war of attrition this was a point of some importance.Experiences of a Dug-out, 1914-1918
Sir Stanley Maude
- the act of wearing away or the state of being worn away, as by friction
- constant wearing down to weaken or destroy (often in the phrase war of attrition)
- Also called: natural wastage a decrease in the size of the workforce of an organization achieved by not replacing employees who retire or resign
- geography the grinding down of rock particles by friction during transportation by water, wind, or iceCompare abrasion (def. 3), corrasion
- theol sorrow for sin arising from fear of damnation, esp as contrasted with contrition, which arises purely from love of God
Word Origin and History for attrition
1540s, "abrasion, a scraping," from Latin attritionem (nominative attritio), literally "a rubbing against," noun of action from past participle stem of atterere "to wear, rub away," figuratively "to destroy, waste," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + terere "to rub" (see throw (v.)). The earliest sense in English is from Scholastic theology (late 14c.), "sorrow for sin merely out of fear of punishment," a minor irritation, and thus less than contrition. The sense of "wearing down of military strength" is a World War I coinage (1914). Figurative use by 1930.
- A wearing away by friction or rubbing, such as the loss of tooth structure caused by abrasive foods or grinding of the teeth.