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 In this case, the study finds in the future the tropical circulation may weaken due to global warming. Jeff Berardelli, CBS News, "Saharan dust cloud cloaks U.S. Gulf Coast in choking haze," 26 June 2020 As the weather cools in Africa starting in mid-August, that temperature differential between the desert and the forests to the south will weaken, zapping the SAL conveyor belt. Matt Simon, Wired, "Why Massive Saharan Dust Plumes Are Blowing Into the US," 25 June 2020 The hurricane center said little change in strength was forecast today but the depression could weaken to a remnant low by Wednesday and dissipate altogether by Thursday. Leigh Morgan, al, "Subtropical depression in Atlantic may not get a name after all," 23 June 2020 According to Cole’s research, loneliness can weaken the immune system and cause inflammation, leaving the sufferer susceptible to many types of chronic disease. Rebecca Renner, National Geographic, "How to beat loneliness during a pandemic? LGBTQ elders lend their wisdom," 17 June 2020 All this is proof, if it were needed, that while some icons are ephemeral or weaken over time, others endure, even if the causes they are attached to are forgotten. The Economist, "Political branding A brief history of protest symbols, from cockades to raised fists," 17 June 2020 But epidemiologists warn that COVID-19 is unlikely to disappear or significantly weaken in the coming months, and that states reopening now could very likely go back into lockdown. Popular Science, "Scientists are working on at least 135 different coronavirus vaccines," 16 June 2020 In some of those trucks from the 2014 to 2017 model years, a leak in the brake master cylinder may weaken the front brakes. Peter Valdes-dapena, CNN, "Ford recalls 2 million vehicles because the doors could open while driving," 12 June 2020 Professor Carlson of Cornell says one factor that could weaken the public’s perception of the president as a China warrior is the mixed messaging that has emanated from the White House. Howard Lafranchi, The Christian Science Monitor, "Punish China over Hong Kong? Why Trump may pull his punches.," 5 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for weaken

Time Traveler

The first known use of weaken was in 1530

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Statistics for weaken

Last Updated

30 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Weaken.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/weaken. Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for weaken


How to pronounce weaken (audio)

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


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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for weaken

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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