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Word of the Day
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Definitions for attenuate

  1. to weaken or reduce in force, intensity, effect, quantity, or value: to attenuate desire.
  2. to make thin; make slender or fine.
  3. Bacteriology, Immunology. to render less virulent, as a strain of pathogenic virus or bacterium.

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Citations for attenuate
Those who direct the state today should do everything to attenuate divisions, put an end to polemics and quarrels so that the entire nation can consecrate its will and energies to the sole effort for peace ... , "Politics Overshadowed," New York Times, October 25, 1962
Neigh was one of the few men whose presence seemed to attenuate her dignity in some mysterious way to its very least proportions ... Thomas Hardy, The Hand of Ethelberta, 1876
Origin of attenuate
The Latin verbs tenuāre “to make thin, slender, meager; rarefy” and its compound attenuāre “to make thin or weak; weaken, diminish” both occur in classical authors and are just about synonymous (attenuāre seems to have slightly more emphasis on making weak or feeble). The root word is the Latin adjective tenuis “thin,” from the very common Proto-Indo-European root ten- “stretch” (tenuis thus means “stretched out”), appearing in Latin tendere “to stretch” (and source of English tend), Latin tener “soft, delicate” (the source, through French of English tender) and Germanic (English) thin. Attenuate entered English in the 16th century.