weaken

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

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

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Other Words from weaken

weakener \ ˈwēk-​nər How to pronounce weakener (audio) , ˈwē-​kə-​ \ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The Trump administration has sought to weaken former President Barack Obama’s health care law by eliminating a tax on people who refuse to purchase private health insurance. Adam Beam, USA TODAY, "California lawmakers pass $214.8 billion budget, including health care for some in US illegally," 14 June 2019 Congress is considering bipartisan legislation to weaken the president’s authority to declare national-security tariffs. Paul Wiseman, Fortune, "Businesses Are Getting Spooked by Trump's Trade Policy," 12 June 2019 Meyler had been romantically involved with Johnson, and the attorney used this to weaken the prosecution’s case. Finlay Young, ProPublica, "An “Astonishing Failure”: Independent Panel Concludes Charity Missed Opportunities to Prevent Rape of Students," 10 June 2019 Contested issue The letter is the industry's most vocal rally to date against Trump’s effort to weaken the rules set by President Barack Obama as part of his fight against climate change. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, "Automakers to Trump: Create one national mileage, pollution standard," 6 June 2019 The proposal to trash Obama-era transgender reforms dovetails with other administration efforts to weaken protections for transgender Americans, according to the Post. Alfred Lubrano, https://www.inquirer.com, "Proposed Trump administration rule change could lead to homeless LGBTQ people being turned away from shelters," 5 June 2019 When the low-pressure system starts to weaken, though, that’s when people should start bundling up. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "What Is a Polar Vortex? The Frigid Weather Pattern Explained," 16 Jan. 2019 There is concern that the U.S. expansion, which next month will become the longest on record, could face growing risks of a recession as retaliatory tariffs weaken U.S. exports. Washington Post, "Powell hints Fed will cut rates if needed over trade wars," 4 June 2019 The outlook for the rest of the year is clouded by the threat of a slowing global economy, trade tensions with China and weakening inflation. Harriet Torry, WSJ, "U.S. Economy Remained Robust in First Quarter," 30 May 2019

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.

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First Known Use of weaken

1530, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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Statistics for weaken

Last Updated

23 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for weaken

The first known use of weaken was in 1530

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More Definitions for weaken

weaken

verb

English Language Learners Definition of weaken

: to make (something or someone) weaker, less forceful, less effective, etc.
: to become weaker, less forceful, less effective, etc.
of money : to decrease in value when compared to money from other countries

weaken

verb
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, Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

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More from Merriam-Webster on weaken

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with weaken

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for weaken

Spanish Central: Translation of weaken

Nglish: Translation of weaken for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of weaken for Arabic Speakers

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