Attenuate

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Etymology

Middle English attenuat, from Latin attenuatus, past participle of attenuare to make thin, from ad- + tenuis thin —

Definitions

  • 1 : reduced especially in thickness, density, or force
  • 2 : tapering gradually usually to a long slender point <attenuate leaves>

Description

In physics, attenuation (in some contexts also called extinction) is the gradual loss in intensity of any kind of flow through a medium. For instance, sunlight is attenuated by dark glasses, X-rays are attenuated by lead, and light and sound are attenuated while passing through seawater.

In electrical engineering and telecommunications, attenuation affects the propagation of waves and signals in electrical circuits, in optical fibers, as well as in air (radio waves).