dim·​i·​nu·​tion ˌdi-mə-ˈnü-shən How to pronounce diminution (audio)
 also  -ˈnyü-
: the act, process, or an instance of becoming gradually less (as in size or importance) : the act, process, or an instance of diminishing : decrease
a diminution in value

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We find written evidence for diminution going back to the 14th century, including use in Geoffrey Chaucer's Middle English poetical work Troilus and Criseyde. Chaucer used "maken dyminucion" ("make diminution") in contrast to the verb "encrece" ("increase"). Diminution came to English by way of Anglo-French from Latin. Its Latin ancestor deminuere ("to diminish") is also an ancestor of the English verb diminish, which entered the language in the 15th century, and the related diminishment, a synonym of diminution that English speakers have been using since the 16th century.

Examples of diminution in a Sentence

a diminution of 60 percent over the course of the month
Recent Examples on the Web He was sentenced to 30 years in prison with all but 14 years suspended but was released in October 2022 after earning diminution credits. Sam Janesch, Baltimore Sun, 6 Feb. 2024 While his sentence would have kept him in prison until 2027, he was released in October 2022 after earning diminution credits, as required by Maryland law. Alex Mann, Baltimore Sun, 16 Jan. 2024 The effect of this, of course, is the diminution of anything and everything that does not matter to Europe. Rory Smith, New York Times, 5 Jan. 2024 The punishment for men is the Atlantis-esque destruction of Númenor and the diminution of long lifespans for all but a few men. Jack Butler, National Review, 31 Dec. 2023 America’s embracing of English soccer could, on some level, be read as the diminution of its own sporting landscape. Rory Smith, New York Times, 22 Dec. 2023 The film doesn’t address this diminution of her role after the first film at all, instead pivoting full force into Momoa’s charisma. Olivia McCormack, Washington Post, 21 Dec. 2023 Glazer’s diminution of the perpetrators themselves is a cinematic reinforcement of Hannah Arendt’s notion of the banality of evil: of deportation and extermination as the product of the numbingly mindless routine of the bureaucratic mind. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 14 Dec. 2023 In the art-house consensus, the danger facing contemporary cinema is its artistic diminution brought about by the market dominance of commercially ravenous franchise films. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 12 Oct. 2023

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

Word History


Middle English diminucioun, from Anglo-French diminutiun, from Medieval Latin diminution-, diminutio, alteration of Latin deminution-, deminutio, from deminuere "to lessen" — more at diminish

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of diminution was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near diminution

Cite this Entry

“Diminution.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/diminution. Accessed 26 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


dim·​i·​nu·​tion ˌdim-ə-ˈn(y)ü-shən How to pronounce diminution (audio)
: the act, process, or an instance of diminishing : decrease

Legal Definition


dim·​i·​nu·​tion ˌdi-mə-ˈnü-shən, -ˈnyü- How to pronounce diminution (audio)
: the act, process, or an instance of making less
diminution of access to health careU.S. Code

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