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[wee-kuh n] /ˈwi kən/
verb (used with object)
to make weak or weaker.
Phonetics. to change (a speech sound) to an articulation requiring less effort, as from geminate to nongeminate or from stop to fricative.
verb (used without object)
to become weak or weaker.
Origin of weaken
1520-30; weak + -en1
Related forms
weakener, noun
reweaken, verb
unweakened, adjective
unweakening, adjective
1, 3. enfeeble, debilitate, enervate, undermine, sap, exhaust, deplete, lessen, diminish, lower, reduce, impair, minimize, invalidate.
1, 3. strengthen. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for weaken
  • Fossils weaken the strength of cut stone and many people discard them outright.
  • It is clear that the ones behind it work by an agenda, in order to strengthen certain beliefs and weaken others.
  • Or, you may be viewed as a political liability who will rally opposition and weaken the appointee's leadership and effectiveness.
  • How the layers bond often determines how easily one will weaken and cause a slide.
  • The disruptors can either prevent or weaken the normal cell-signaling process.
  • Repeated swings in temperature can also weaken and eventually fragment rock, which expands when hot and shrinks when cold.
  • They weaken the bird's eggshells and severely limited their ability to reproduce.
  • These holes can be so large that they weaken smaller trees or even cause them to break in half.
  • Since tritium is highly radioactive, that makes containment a big problem as structures weaken and need to be replaced.
  • Something as simple as a credit card can weaken self-control.
British Dictionary definitions for weaken


to become or cause to become weak or weaker
Derived Forms
weakener, noun
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 weaken

1520s, from weak + -en (1). The earlier verb was simply weak (late 14c.). Related: Weakened; weakening.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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