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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Females do make incisions in twigs for their eggs, which can weaken saplings but not mature trees and shrubs. Kate Wong, Scientific American, "Brood X Cicadas Are Emerging at Last," 10 May 2021 An aging population, automation, and global competition will combine to soften demand and weaken companies’ pricing power. Washington Post, "Recovery’s stumbles leave Americans confronting unfamiliar inflation risk," 10 May 2021 But Russia, as well as China, has sought to divide and weaken the West using the kind of assaults that remain below the threshold of armed conflict, such as cyberattacks and disinformation. James Marson, WSJ, "‘Scared or Prepared?’: Inside Sweden’s Effort to Steel Its Citizens Against Threats From Russia," 7 May 2021 That would reduce the workforce, dampen the economy and weaken the tax base for state and local governments, including public education. George Skelton, Los Angeles Times, "Column: California’s population growth has slowed. Blame the exorbitant housing costs," 3 May 2021 The severe storm threat will decrease by late evening as the storms weaken and move off to the east. Dallas News, "Severe storms, then cooler," 3 May 2021 Additionally, international companies are worried that the dollar may weaken in the years ahead — which could be a boon for exporters but a vulnerability for importers. William Fink, Forbes, "What Can CFOs Plan For Moving Forward? Economic Recovery And Increased M&A Activity," 28 Apr. 2021 Russia, with its territorial grabs and election interference, is stepping up efforts to divide and weaken the West. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "America's enemies line up to put Biden to the test," 14 Apr. 2021 Fujiwhara’s later studies observed interactions of two storms could interfere with each other and weaken both. Joe Mario Pedersen, orlandosentinel.com, "Hurricane Facts: Do hurricanes dance to the Fujiwhara effect?," 26 Apr. 2021

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.

See More

First Known Use of weaken

1530, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about weaken

Statistics for weaken

Last Updated

14 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Weaken.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/weaken. Accessed 14 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for weaken



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

Comments on weaken

What made you want to look up weaken? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!