Definition of attenuate in English:



  • 1 Reduce the force, effect, or value of.

    ‘her intolerance was attenuated by a rather unexpected liberalism’
    • ‘Although the data presented here suggest that vitamin C supplementation could be clinically useful in attenuating the effects of smoking on lung development, this study has a number of limitations.’
    • ‘In other words, we anticipated that positive family relationships would attenuate the effect of individual differences that have been shown to be related to depressed mood.’
    • ‘This may have attenuated any effect of treatment.’
    • ‘Furthermore, we cannot rule out the possibility that a selection effect attenuated some of the findings for the Canadian sample.’
    • ‘Particularly in disadvantaged areas, this perception of one's own power as a parent seems to be a promising avenue for attenuating the potentially harmful effects of the environment on children's development.’
    • ‘Some research suggests, however, that the effects of aging are attenuated not by how much people receive from their community but by how much they contribute to it.’
    • ‘I think that there are strategies by which we can at least attenuate the negative effects of globalisation, but these strategies need to be more sophisticated than organised protest.’
    • ‘Theoretically this effect is maximised the longer the waiting time; when waiting time is relatively short the effect is attenuated.’
    • ‘There is scientific evidence demonstrating that, so far as the individual is motivated for carrying out the work, the negative effect of long hours is attenuated.’
    • ‘Previous research has shown that high-stress individuals and their spouses are at risk for a variety of negative outcomes, including marital and emotional distress, and that social support may attenuate these effects.’
    • ‘Indeed, distance may strengthen, rather than attenuate social relationships, Fischer argues, and that seems to have been the case in this immigrant community.’
    • ‘I do not believe this attenuates the force of any judgement against those responsible for such attacks.’
    • ‘Social inequalities could never be eliminated, only attenuated.’
    • ‘However, this beneficial effect is attenuated, and possibly reversed, after much longer treatment regimens.’
    • ‘We expected that family conflict and depression symptoms would generally function as mediators, but also assessed whether they would exacerbate or attenuate the effects of parental drinking problems on children's adjustment.’
    • ‘Ascorbate treatment also attenuated the detrimental effects of the silver nitrate on the plant tissue, considerably reducing the necrotic lesions.’
    • ‘Clinicians should refer cocaine-exposed children to early intervention services to attenuate long-term effects.’
    • ‘So it's feasible to raise enough antibody there to either completely block or very substantially attenuate the effects that nicotine would have.’
    • ‘This may have attenuated the effect of corporate university training on performance.’
    • ‘However, the magnitude of the effect was clearly attenuated.’
    • ‘Prenatal nicotine exposure significantly decreased levels of elastin content in the lungs of offspring, and these effects were slightly attenuated by vitamin C.’
    weakened, reduced, lessened, decreased, diminished, impaired, enervated
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    1. 1.1Reduce the amplitude of (a signal, electric current, or other oscillation)
      • ‘You don't have a choice in stereo: You force everything into that left/right soundfield by selectively boosting or attenuating certain frequencies to enhance those instruments.’
      • ‘However, a possible drawback is that, as a consequence of relatively high conductivities, low frequency electric fields are severely attenuated in biological tissues.’
      • ‘If this signal is to be passed to downstream devices, it must be amplified and the jitter eliminated or attenuated.’
      • ‘Despite the fact that the charge on the metal is high, the field acting on the membrane is greatly attenuated by the electrolyte ions in the thin layer of solvent.’
      • ‘The pressure pulse will then propagate mainly at that specific frequency along the meridian since it is minimally attenuated at the resonant frequency.’
      • ‘Semiconductor photodiodes offer high-sensitivity and low-noise operation, enabling them to detect very low light levels; attenuating filters must be used for high powers.’
      • ‘As a result of the high electrical conductivity of sea water, signals are attenuated rapidly as they propagate downward through it.’
      • ‘Notice that UHF frequencies are attenuated much more than VHF.’
      • ‘New designs have greatly improved the sensitivity of GPS receivers so they can make code-phase measurements even on the severely attenuated signals inside buildings.’
      • ‘In recent years, engineers have developed receivers that will perform satisfactorily even with multipath-corrupted and severely attenuated signals such as those found indoors.’
      weakened, reduced, lessened, decreased, diminished, impaired, enervated
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Reduce the virulence of (a pathogenic organism or vaccine)
      ‘attenuated strains of rabies virus’
      • ‘Because vaccination attenuates the clinical presentation of pertussis, a more sensitive case definition than spasmodic cough of two weeks should be adopted in vaccinated populations.’
      • ‘BCG is a live attenuated vaccine and is being given routinely to all newborns under the universal immunization programme.’
      • ‘An existing, attenuated vaccine against yellow fever is not very effective for just this reason and has to be administered every four years.’
      • ‘Surfactant therapy attenuated this deterioration, but not completely.’
      • ‘Childhood vaccination against varicella with a live attenuated vaccine is now common in the United States and may be introduced elsewhere.’
      • ‘Recently, a live attenuated virus preparation was developed that reduced the number of infections by 19 to 24 percent when given intranasally to healthy adult volunteers.’
      • ‘The measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine contains live attenuated measles, mumps, and rubella viruses.’
      • ‘Adverse events such as anaphylaxis may be related to a sensitivity to vaccine components rather than to the attenuated vaccine virus itself.’
      • ‘Long-term exposure to allergens can attenuate inflammation and revert airway hyperreactivity to normal responsiveness.’
      • ‘This live, attenuated vaccine contains a weakened form of the tularemia bacterium, enabling the immune system to recognize and produce neutralizing antibodies against the bacterium if it is encountered again.’
      • ‘Live, attenuated influenza virus vaccine and placebo were administered as an intranasal spray in a single dose between mid-September and mid-November.’
      • ‘Live, attenuated influenza vaccine was licensed in 2003 for intranasal administration to healthy children and adults five to 49 years of age.’
      • ‘Inactivated vaccines don't seem to work as well as live attenuated vaccines, and in this review at least, did not work at all in children under 2.’
      • ‘The authors conclude that live, attenuated intranasally administered influenza vaccine is safe and effective in healthy adults.’
      • ‘To date, only a single randomized placebo-controlled trial has been done to determine whether augmentation therapy attenuates the development of emphysema.’
      • ‘Proactive primary prevention presumes that the pathogen can be attenuated or prevented from reaching the individual.’
      • ‘Overall, the inflammatory response was attenuated by hydrocortisone.’
      • ‘In one live, attenuated vaccine approach, scientists genetically modify the TB bacterium in the laboratory, thereby reducing its ability to cause disease.’
      • ‘However, other strains of probiotic organisms actually attenuated the cytokine response.’
      • ‘In contrast, fasting, which reduces serum leptin, attenuates ozone-induced inflammation.’
      • ‘Varicella-zoster virus vaccine is a live attenuated virus that becomes latent after vaccination.’
      • ‘Not only was this well tolerated, but a myriad of physiological, biochemical, and histological measures of lung damage and inflammation were considerably attenuated, and mortality was reduced.’
    3. 1.3Reduce in thickness; make thin.
      ‘the trees are attenuated from being grown too close together’
      • ‘The pink transparent band and the bold red title echo the scrawled writing of the original document shown in the photo and the thin, attenuated rubber band holding it all together.’
      • ‘In the earthly zone, which includes a gallery of portraits of Toledan gentlemen, the figures are only mildly attenuated and their garments are painted with the best Venetian illusionistic technique.’
      • ‘There was a faint echo of Matisse's floral gouaches découpées, whirled into three dimensions, but Brough's vocabulary of shapes, some as attenuated as bird wings, is entirely her own.’
      • ‘In 1 patient, the capsular tissue was so thin and attenuated that the planned revision capsular shift procedure was aborted after a diagnostic arthroscopy.’
      • ‘At some moments the soloist's rubato might have seemed overly attenuated, but it would be curmudgeonly to complain, particularly in the light of his ravishingly beautiful treatment of sequential passages.’
      • ‘The oddly attenuated, gothic proportions of her figures, for example, derive from Varo's admiration for El Greco.’
      • ‘Against the wall of Baghel's compound stood a row of finished metal figurines: as attenuated, and retro-modern, as those of Amadeo Modigliani.’
      • ‘Microscopic examination revealed the cysts were of varying size and shape and were lined by thin, attenuated endothelial cells.’
      thin, slender, slim, skinny, spindly, bony, gaunt, skeletal
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  • Reduced in force, effect, or physical thickness.

    • ‘On the other hand, for their own analysis Carling et al. used an attenuate isosceles triangle with a blunt snout as their model organism, rather than the profile of an eel.’
    thin, slender, slim, skinny, spindly, bony, gaunt, skeletal
    View synonyms


Mid 16th century: from Latin attenuat- made slender from the verb attenuare, from ad- to + tenuare make thin (from tenuis thin).