weaken

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Synonym Chooser

How is the word weaken distinct from other similar verbs?

Some common synonyms of weaken are cripple, debilitate, disable, enfeeble, sap, and undermine. While all these words 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

When would cripple be a good substitute for weaken?

While in some cases nearly identical to weaken, cripple implies causing a serious loss of functioning power through damaging or removing an essential part or element.

crippled by arthritis

Where would debilitate be a reasonable alternative to weaken?

The words debilitate and weaken can be used in similar contexts, but debilitate suggests a less marked or more temporary impairment of strength or vitality.

the debilitating effects of surgery

When could disable be used to replace weaken?

While the synonyms disable and weaken are close in meaning, disable suggests bringing about impairment or limitation in a physical or mental ability.

disabled by an injury sustained at work

When might enfeeble be a better fit than weaken?

The synonyms enfeeble and weaken are sometimes interchangeable, but enfeeble implies a condition of marked weakness and helplessness.

enfeebled by starvation

How are the words undermine and sap related as synonyms of weaken?

Both 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

Thesaurus Entries Near weaken

Cite this Entry

“Weaken.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/weaken. Accessed 4 Feb. 2023.

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