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attrition

Attrition is a gradual process of wearing down, weakening, or destroying something.

When a company wants to reduce its payroll without firing anyone, it will sometimes do so through attrition; that is, by waiting for people to retire or quit without hiring anyone new to replace them. In a more general sense, the word means break down, wear out, or reduce in numbers. A triple overtime basketball game, with many players fouling out, is a war of attrition. When you see the word attrition, think "Gradually chipping away."

Definitions of attrition
  1. noun
    the act of rubbing together; wearing something down by friction
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    type of:
    detrition, friction, rubbing
    effort expended in moving one object over another with pressure
  2. noun
    erosion by friction
    synonyms: abrasion, corrasion, detrition
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    type of:
    eating away, eroding, erosion, wearing, wearing away
    (geology) the mechanical process of wearing or grinding something down (as by particles washing over it)
  3. noun
    the wearing down of rock particles by friction due to water or wind or ice
    synonyms: abrasion, detrition, grinding
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    type of:
    friction, rubbing
    the resistance encountered when one body is moved in contact with another
  4. noun
    a wearing down to weaken or destroy
    “a war of attrition
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    type of:
    decrease, drop-off, lessening
    a change downward
  5. noun
    sorrow for sin arising from fear of damnation
    synonyms: contriteness, contrition
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    type of:
    regret, rue, ruefulness, sorrow
    sadness associated with some wrong done or some disappointment
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