Entries linking to weaken
c. 1300, from Old Norse veikr "weak," cognate with Old English wac "weak, pliant, soft," from Proto-Germanic *waika- "yield" (source also of Old Saxon wek, Swedish vek, Middle Dutch weec, Dutch week "weak, soft, tender," Old High German weih "yielding, soft," German weich "soft"), from PIE root *weik- (2) "to bend, to wind."
Sense of "lacking authority" is first recorded early 15c.; that of "lacking moral strength" late 14c. In grammar, denoting a verb inflected by regular syllabic addition rather than by change of the radical vowel, from 1833. Related: Weakly. Weak-kneed "wanting in resolve" is by 1856; older in a literal sense.
word-forming element making verbs (such as darken, weaken) from adjectives or nouns, from Old English -nian, from Proto-Germanic *-inojan (also source of Old Norse -na), from PIE adjectival suffix *-no-. Most active in Middle English and early modern English, hence most verbs in -en are comparatively recent.
updated on March 25, 2014
The fever weakened his body
The prisoner's resistance weakened after seven days