weak·​en | \ ˈwē-kən How to pronounce weaken (audio) \
weakened; weakening\ ˈwēk-​niŋ , ˈwē-​kə-​ How to pronounce weaken (audio) \

Definition of weaken

transitive verb

1 : to make weak : lessen the strength of
2 : to reduce in intensity or effectiveness

intransitive verb

: to become weak

Other Words from weaken

weakener \ ˈwēk-​nər , ˈwē-​kə-​ How to pronounce weaken (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for weaken

weaken, enfeeble, debilitate, undermine, sap, cripple, disable mean to lose or cause to lose strength or vigor. weaken may imply loss of physical strength, health, soundness, or stability or of quality, intensity, or effective power. a disease that weakens the body's defenses enfeeble implies a condition of marked weakness and helplessness. enfeebled by starvation debilitate suggests a less marked or more temporary impairment of strength or vitality. the debilitating effects of surgery undermine and sap suggest a weakening by something working surreptitiously and insidiously. a poor diet undermines your health drugs had sapped his ability to think cripple implies causing a serious loss of functioning power through damaging or removing an essential part or element. crippled by arthritis disable suggests bringing about impairment or limitation in a physical or mental ability. disabled by an injury sustained at work

Examples of weaken in a Sentence

The disease weakens the immune system. Some are concerned that the increase in taxes will weaken the economy. The beams had been weakened by water damage. efforts to weaken environmental laws The recent setbacks have not weakened our resolve. These kinds of contradictions weaken your argument. The disease causes the immune system to weaken. The dollar has continued to weaken against the euro. Lower interest rates have weakened the dollar. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Aurora is supporting an effort to defeat legislation that many municipal officials across the state say will weaken tax increment financing districts. Steve Lord, Chicago Tribune, 29 Apr. 2022 Critics, however, said the new laws will weaken public schools and leave them open to the whims of politicians. NBC News, 28 Apr. 2022 These new arrivals boost home values, but rising property taxes eat into homeowners’ gains and weaken Texas’ appeal for coastal refugees. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 27 Apr. 2022 The fear is that rule by two children of strongmen would reinforce a system of patronage, weaken democratic institutions and emphasize that only a candidate’s last name matters. Washington Post, 27 Apr. 2022 Residents also worry that the percussion of a launch might weaken the sandstone cliffs along the lake’s shore. David Rompf, The New Yorker, 24 Apr. 2022 Higher mortgage loans can limit the pool of buyers and cool the rate of home price growth — good news for buyers, although higher rates also weaken their buying power. CBS News, 20 Apr. 2022 How Russians react to the financial hardships resulting from Mr. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will determine in part whether anything can weaken the Russian leader’s grip on power or sap support for the war. New York Times, 18 Apr. 2022 Oil prices, which spiked after Russia’s attack on Ukraine, have eased on expectations Chinese consumption will weaken. Joe Mcdonald, ajc, 18 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'weaken.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of weaken

1530, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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Dictionary Entries Near weaken

weak at/in the knees


weaker sex

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Statistics for weaken

Last Updated

2 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Weaken.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/weaken. Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for weaken


weak·​en | \ ˈwē-kən How to pronounce weaken (audio) \
weakened; weakening

Kids Definition of weaken

: to make or become weak or weaker … he didn't want to weaken his message by varying it one bit.— E. L. Konigsburg, From The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

More from Merriam-Webster on weaken

Nglish: Translation of weaken for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of weaken for Arabic Speakers


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