at·​ten·​u·​a·​tion ə-ˌten-yə-ˈwā-shən How to pronounce attenuation (audio)
plural attenuations
: the act or process of attenuating something or the state of being attenuated: such as
: a lessening in amount, force, magnitude, or value : weakening
Sound can travel thousands of kilometers in this planar acoustic waveguide with little attenuation.David Ritchie
: a reduction of severity or virulence : a decrease in the pathogenicity of a microorganism or in the severity of a disease
This virus grew well in tissue culture, with only limited temperature sensitivity as a marker of possible attenuation.Peter F. Wright
: diminution of thickness
The detailing of the doorway, the narrowness and attenuation of the columns of the portico, and most especially the paneling and ornamentation in the interior … bespeak the neoclassical, somewhat similar to the plaster work found in Baltimore interiors.Jessie Poesch

Examples of attenuation in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This tendency for a Giacometti-like attenuation was also seen at Alaïa, in the form of the must-have high-rise pant. Laird Borrelli-Persson, Vogue, 10 Oct. 2023 The regulations also include several requirements for noise attenuation. Stacy Ryburn, Arkansas Online, 6 Sep. 2023 The attenuation length of light in water is on the order of tens of meters. Malcolm MacIver, Discover Magazine, 15 Mar. 2011 With Gauthier’s one witty exception, attenuation of limbs, subtle fluidity, and wild abandon are hallmarks. Catherine Tharin,, 15 July 2023 Basically, when attenuation fails, and self-perception becomes imprecise, the weighting of our perception is skewed towards self focus, and what was once taken for granted as ‘real’ and ‘present’ now feels detached and fractured. Conor Feehly, Discover Magazine, 30 May 2022 Ultimately, the virus went through a process called attenuation. Los Angeles Times, 23 Dec. 2021 The Flytefoam midsole had impressive rebound qualities and Asics incorporated GEL technology in both the fore and rear for shock attenuation and general cushioning. Adam Chase, Outside Online, 2 Apr. 2020 Almost a century later, the Chevy team saw the potential to almost eliminate FPC vibration using modern engine mounts and other attenuation technology. Eric Tegler, Popular Mechanics, 10 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'attenuation.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1559, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of attenuation was in 1559

Dictionary Entries Near attenuation

Cite this Entry

“Attenuation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Medical Definition


at·​ten·​u·​a·​tion ə-ˌten-yə-ˈwā-shən How to pronounce attenuation (audio)
: a decrease in the pathogenicity or vitality of a microorganism or in the severity of a disease

Legal Definition


at·​ten·​u·​a·​tion ə-ˌten-yu̇-ˈwā-shən How to pronounce attenuation (audio)
: a lessening of the amount, force, or magnitude of something
specifically : a weakening of the connection between an illegal police procedure and the evidence obtained by it such that the evidence is admissible at trial as an exception to the exclusionary rule
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