weaken


weaken
weaken, enfeeble, debilitate, undermine, sap, cripple, disable can mean to lose or cause to lose, strength, vigor, or energy.
Weaken, the most general term of this group, most frequently implies loss of the physical strength or functional efficiency characteristic of a healthy living thing or of any of its parts or loss of the soundness or stability characteristic of a strong material structure
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overexercise has weakened his heart

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unfertilized plants weaken and die

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the illness has weakened him considerably

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decay has weakened the wooden supports of the bridge

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but it may imply a loss in quality, intensity, or effective power in something material or immaterial (as by a natural or forced reduction in resources, numbers, means of support, or strengthening principle)
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wearing down the weakening defenders in battles of attrition— Shirer

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the growing power of Parliament weakened the authority of the sov- ereign

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weaken tea with water

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the spirit of adventure is not stimulated but weakened by poverty— Cohen

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Enfeeble implies a more obvious and a more pitiable condition than weaken; it suggests the state of a person greatly weakened by old age, by severe or prolonged illness, or by a state comparable to it and usually implies helplessness or powerlessness more strongly than weaken does
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so enfeebled by illness that he will probably never walk again

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a country crushed and enfeebled by war

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Debilitate may be used in place of enfeeble but it tends to suggest a somewhat less marked and often more gradually developed impairment of strength or vitality
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her frail nervous system and her delicate constitution, still further debilitated by the slow progress of disease— Ellis

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a debilitating climate

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Undermine and sap imply a weakening by something or someone working surreptitiously or insidiously and may further suggest a draining of strength or a caving in or breaking down
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her health has been undermined by lack of rest and proper food

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some of the new philosophies undermine the authority of science, as some of the older systems undermined the authority of religion— Inge

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but sloth had sapped the prophet's strength— Newman

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his moral energy is sapped by a kind of skepticism— Dowden

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Cripple basically means to deprive of the use of a limb; in extended use it suggests a deprivation of something causing a loss of strength or effectiveness comparable to that resulting from the loss of a limb
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crippling diseases

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crippled by arthritis

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the obstacles which stunt and cripple the mind— Inge

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the war economy which marries full production to a necessarily crippled market— Mailer

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a writer possessing ... a sense of style only partially crippled by his reckless fecundity— A. C. Wardy}

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Disable implies an intervention (as an event, an injury, or an influence) that deprives of strength or competence
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these consoling yet nonetheless disabling illusions— Straight

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disabled soldiers

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do not let your mind be disabled by excessive sympathy— Shaw

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Analogous words: enervate, emasculate, *unnerve, unman: impair, *injure, damage: dilute, *thin, attenuate, extenuate
Antonyms: strengthen
Contrasted words: energize, *vitalize, activate: *improve, better

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • weaken — weak‧en [ˈwiːkən] verb 1. [intransitive, transitive] FINANCE if investments, prices, currencies etc weaken, or something weakens them, they begin to fall in value: • A combination of low US interest rates and a rising Euro will weaken the dollar …   Financial and business terms

  • Weaken — Weak en, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Weakened}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Weakening}.] [1913 Webster] 1. To make weak; to lessen the strength of; to deprive of strength; to debilitate; to enfeeble; to enervate; as, to weaken the body or the mind; to weaken the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • weaken — [wē′kən] vt., vi. to make or become weak or weaker weakener n. SYN. WEAKEN, the most general of these words, implies a lessening of strength, power, soundness, etc. [weakened by disease, to weaken an argument ]; DEBILITATE suggests a partial or… …   English World dictionary

  • Weaken — Weak en, v. i. To become weak or weaker; to lose strength, spirit, or determination; to become less positive or resolute; as, the patient weakened; the witness weakened on cross examination. His notion weakens, his discernings are lethargied.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • weaken — index adulterate, alleviate, attenuate, countervail, damage, debase, debilitate, denature, deplete …   Law dictionary

  • weaken — 1520s, from WEAK (Cf. weak) + EN (Cf. en) (1). The earlier verb was simply weak (late 14c.). Related: Weakened; weakening …   Etymology dictionary

  • weaken — [v] reduce the strength of abate, adulterate, break up, cripple, crumble, cut, debase, debilitate, decline, decrease, depress, devitalize, dilute, diminish, droop, dwindle, ease up, enervate, exhaust, fade, fail, faint, flag, give way, halt,… …   New thesaurus

  • weaken — ► VERB ▪ make or become weak …   English terms dictionary

  • weaken */*/ — UK [ˈwiːkən] / US [ˈwɪkən] verb Word forms weaken : present tense I/you/we/they weaken he/she/it weakens present participle weakening past tense weakened past participle weakened 1) a) [intransitive/transitive] to make someone physically less… …   English dictionary

  • weaken — verb ADVERB ▪ considerably, greatly, seriously, severely, significantly, substantially ▪ badly ▪ The military was badly weakened by the sanctions …   Collocations dictionary


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