- a reduction or decrease in numbers, size, or strength: Our club has had a high rate of attrition because so many members have moved away.
- a wearing down or weakening of resistance, especially as a result of continuous pressure or harassment: The enemy surrounded the town and conducted a war of attrition.
- a gradual reduction in work force without firing of personnel, as when workers resign or retire and are not replaced.
- the act of rubbing against something; friction.
- a wearing down or away by friction; abrasion.
- Theology. imperfect contrition.See under .
- the act of wearing away or the state of being worn away, as by friction
- constant wearing down to weaken or destroy (often in the phrase war of attrition)
- Also called: natural wastage a decrease in the size of the workforce of an organization achieved by not replacing employees who retire or resign
- geography the grinding down of rock particles by friction during transportation by water, wind, or iceCompare ,
- theol sorrow for sin arising from fear of damnation, esp as contrasted with contrition, which arises purely from love of God
1540s, “abrasion, a scraping,” from Latin attritionem (nominative attritio), literally “a rubbing against,” noun of action from past participle stem of atterere “to wear, rub away,” figuratively “to destroy, waste,” from ad- “to” (see ) + terere “to rub” (see (v.)). The earliest sense in English is from Scholastic theology (late 14c.), “sorrow for sin merely out of fear of punishment,” a minor irritation, and thus less than contrition. The sense of “wearing down of military strength” is a World War I coinage (1914). Figurative use by 1930.
- A wearing away by friction or rubbing, such as the loss of tooth structure caused by abrasive foods or grinding of the teeth.