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From Latin attritio (a rubbing against), from the verb attritus, past participle of atterere (to wear), from ad- (to, towards) + terere (to rub).



attrition (countable and uncountable, plural attritions)

  1. Wearing or grinding down by friction.
  2. The gradual reduction in a tangible or intangible resource due to causes that are passive and do not involve productive use of the resource.
  3. (human resources) A gradual, natural reduction in membership or personnel, as through retirement, resignation, or death.
  4. (sciences) The loss of participants during an experiment.
  5. (theology) Imperfect contrition or remorse.
  6. (dentistry) The wearing of teeth due to their grinding.
  7. (linguistics) The loss of a first or second language or a portion of that language.



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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


attrition (third-person singular simple present attritions, present participle attritioning, simple past and past participle attritioned)

  1. (transitive) To grind or wear down through friction.
    Synonym: attrit
    attritioned teeth; attritioned rock
    • 1989, Shashi Tharoor, The Great Indian Novel, New York: Arcade, Book 9, p. 189,[2]
      [] He took her in his arms
      And kissed her long and wetly,
      Till, attritioned by her charms,
      His will collapsed completely.
  2. (transitive) To reduce the number of (jobs or workers) by not hiring new employees to fill positions that become vacant (often with out).[1]
    As a result of the new policy, people were being attritioned out.
    • 1989, Herbert S. White, “The Future of Library and Information Science Education” in Librarians and the Awakening from Innocence, Boston: G.K. Hall, p. 86,[3]
      [] expenses can be cut, by attritioning faculty vacancies []
  3. (intransitive) To undergo a reduction in number.
    The cohort of one hundred students had attritioned to sixty by the end of secondary school.



  1. ^ Clarence Barnhart et al., The Second Barnhart Dictionary of New English, Bronxville, NY: Barnhart Books.[1]




From Latin attrītiō.


  • IPA(key): /a.tʁi.sjɔ̃/
  • (file)


attrition f (plural attritions)

  1. attrition