Definition of attenuate
1 : reduced especially in thickness, density, or force
2 : tapering gradually usually to a long slender point <attenuate leaves>
Origin of attenuate
Middle English attenuat, from Latin attenuatus, past participle of attenuare to make thin, from ad- + tenuis thin — more at thin
First Known Use: 15th century
Simple Definition of attenuate
: to make (something) weaker or less in amount, effect, or force
Full Definition of attenuate
Examples of attenuate in a sentence
Earplugs will attenuate the loud sounds of the machinery.
<an investment attenuated by significant inflation over the years>
Did You Know?
Attenuate ultimately comes from a combination of the Latin prefix ad-, meaning "to" or "toward," and tenuis, meaning "thin." It has been on the medical scene since the 16th century, when a health treatise recommended eating dried figs to attenuate bodily fluids. That treatment might be outmoded nowadays, but "attenuate" is still used in medicine to refer to procedures that weaken a pathogen or reduce the severity of a disease. Most often, though, "attenuate" implies that something has been reduced or weakened by physical or chemical means. You can attenuate wire by drawing it through successively smaller holes, or attenuate gold by hammering it into thin sheets. You can even attenuate the momentum of a play by including too many costume changes.
First Known Use of attenuate
Rhymes with attenuate
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Medical Definition of attenuate
: to reduce the severity of (a disease) or virulence or vitality of (a pathogenic agent) <a procedure to attenuate severe diabetes> <attenuated bacilli>
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