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From Latin attenuāre, from attenuāt-, at- = ad- (to) + tenuāre (to make thin), tenuis (thin).



attenuate (third-person singular simple present attenuates, present participle attenuating, simple past and past participle attenuated)

  1. (transitive) To reduce in size, force, value, amount, or degree.
    • 1874, Thomas Hardy, chapter 40, in Far From the Madding Crowd:
      A manor-house clock from the far depths of shadow struck the hour, one, in a small, attenuated tone.
  2. (transitive) To make thinner, as by physically reshaping, starving, or decaying.
    • 1899, Stephen Crane, chapter 4, in His New Mittens:
      Clumps of attenuated turkeys were suspended here and there.
    • 1906, E. Phillips Oppenheim, chapter 1, in The Malefactor:
      Lovell, wan and hollow-eyed, his arm in a sling, his once burly frame gaunt and attenuated with disease, nodded.
  3. (intransitive) To become thin or fine; to grow less.
  4. (transitive) To weaken.
    • 1851, Sir Francis Palgrave, chapter IV, in The History of Normandy and of England:
      We may reject and reject till we attenuate history into sapless meagreness.
  5. (transitive) To rarefy.
    • 1900 December – 1901 August, H[erbert] G[eorge] Wells, chapter 23, in The First Men in the Moon, London: George Newnes, [], published 1901, →OCLC:
      "It speedily became apparent that the entire strangeness of our circumstances and surroundings—great loss of weight, attenuated but highly oxygenated air, consequent exaggeration of the results of muscular effort, rapid development of weird plants from obscure spores, lurid sky—was exciting my companion unduly."
  6. (transitive, medicine) To reduce the virulence of a bacterium or virus.
  7. (transitive, electronics) To reduce the amplitude of an electrical, radio, or optical signal.
  8. (brewing) (of a beer) To become less dense as a result of the conversion of sugar to alcohol.
    • 2009 July–August, John Palmer, “Attenuation: Advanced Brewing”, in Brew Your Own[1], archived from the original on 6 October 2013:
      A beer which does not attenuate to the expected level in fermentation will have more residual sugar and thus be sweeter and heavier-bodied.


  • (antonym(s) of "electronics"): amplify

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attenuate (comparative more attenuate, superlative most attenuate)

  1. (botany, of leaves) Gradually tapering into a petiole-like extension toward the base.

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Etymology 1[edit]



  1. inflection of attenuare:
    1. second-person plural present indicative
    2. second-person plural imperative

Etymology 2[edit]


attenuate f pl

  1. feminine plural of attenuato




  1. second-person plural present active imperative of attenuō