9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[v. uh-ten-yoo-eyt; adj. uh-ten-yoo-it, -eyt] /v. əˈtɛn yuˌeɪt; adj. əˈtɛn yu ɪt, -ˌeɪt/
verb (used with object), attenuated, attenuating.
to weaken or reduce in force, intensity, effect, quantity, or value:
to attenuate desire.
to make thin; make slender or fine.
Bacteriology, Immunology. to render less virulent, as a strain of pathogenic virus or bacterium.
Electronics. to decrease the amplitude of (an electronic signal).
verb (used without object), attenuated, attenuating.
to become thin or fine; lessen.
weakened; diminishing.
Botany. tapering gradually to a narrow extremity.
Origin of attenuate
1520-30; < Latin attenuātus (past participle of attenuāre to thin, reduce). See at-, tenuis, -ate1
Related forms
overattenuate, verb (used with object), overattenuated, overattenuating.
subattenuate, adjective
subattenuated, adjective
unattenuated, adjective
unattenuatedly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for attenuate
  • Even as the available endorphins attenuate, the memory is right there.
  • They will attenuate rights and still call them rights.
  • Four separate tone controls permit you to boost or attenuate any frequency range or combination of ranges.
  • Such statements not only mean little, but also attenuate the reader's interest in a potentially fascinating subject.
  • But we are fighting to eliminate, or at least attenuate, many of them.
  • Previous studies indicate that both reefs and forests may attenuate wave energy by as much as 90 percent.
  • Yes, earplugs may attenuate the effects to some degree.
  • If a muscle's hyperexcitability is the basis of cramping, then stretching should attenuate the response.
  • Radio astronomers have realized that no practical belt of dipoles would attenuate the incoming waves to any measurable extent.
  • This spongy material serves in the main to attenuate the external noise.
British Dictionary definitions for attenuate


verb (əˈtɛnjʊˌeɪt)
to weaken or become weak; reduce in size, strength, density, or value
to make or become thin or fine; extend
(transitive) to make (a pathogenic bacterium, virus, etc) less virulent, as by culture in special media or exposure to heat
adjective (əˈtɛnjʊɪt; -ˌeɪt)
diluted, weakened, slender, or reduced
(botany) tapering gradually to a point
Word Origin
C16: from Latin attenuāre to weaken, from tenuis thin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for attenuate

"to make thin, to make less," 1520s, from Latin attenuatus "enfeebled, weak," past participle of attenuare "to make thin, lessen, diminish," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + tenuare "make thin," from tenuis "thin" (see tenet). Related: Attenuated; attenuating. Earlier was Middle English attenuen "to make thin (in consistency)," early 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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attenuate in Medicine

attenuate at·ten·u·ate (ə-těn'yōō-āt')
v. at·ten·u·at·ed, at·ten·u·at·ing, at·ten·u·ates

  1. To reduce in force, value, amount, or degree; weaken; diminish.

  2. To make bacteria or viruses less virulent.

Reduced or weakened, as in strength, value, or virulence.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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