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a war of attrition
  gradual loss or weakening — especially loss of people such as in a war
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attrition attritional
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  • a war of attrition
  • The company is reducing the number of employees through normal attrition rather than through layoffs.
  • Now we are in a war of attrition.
    Rick Yancey  --  The 5th Wave
  • I think it was one of his major disappointments in me that I couldn’t repeat myself, not a single time; for unbeknownst to Farrell, and only partly apparent to me, the McGraw-Hill syndrome of despair and attrition had set in.
    William Styron  --  Sophie’s Choice

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  • And right here the attrition began.
    Marcus Luttrell  --  Lone Survivor
  • The surprise of the attrition rate is that only a fraction of the ill-fated planes were lost in combat.
    Laura Hillenbrand  --  Unbroken
  • Several times the enemy was able to trick him into exposing more weakness than he meant to; other times the enemy was able to wear him down by attrition until his victory was as much a matter of luck as strategy.
    Orson Scott Card  --  Ender’s Game
  • But the incidents of his adventure grew sensibly sharper and clearer under the attrition of thinking them over, and so he presently found himself leaning to the impression that the thing might not have been a dream, after all.
    Mark Twain  --  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  • He hopes to drag out this fight, to bleed us dry through slow attrition.
    Christopher Paolini  --  Brisingr
  • Cedric knows such issues of racial attrition are subjects of debate on campus, and he looks intently at the professor, letting the silence hang, hoping for a break.
    Ron Suskind  --  A Hope in the Unseen

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  • We civilized people, who would immediately fly to divorce courts and alimony and other forms of attrition in such circumstances, can afford to look with proper contempt upon the spineless cuckold.
    T. H. White  --  The Once and Future King
  • But China is a vast country, and despite millions of casualties, Japan’s war became a debilitating war of attrition.
    James Bradley  --  Flags of Our Fathers
  • And even if she hoped it might be, even if she hoped she might someday be persuaded by time or reason or gradual attrition not to feel this way anymore, it didn’t matter.
    Cassandra Clare  --  City of Glass
  • Ah, he would take her beyond—beyond the ugliness, the pettiness, the attrition and corrosion of the soul—— Gerty’s little sitting-room sparkled with welcome when Selden entered it.
    Edith Wharton  --  The House of Mirth
  • The routine of adversity, the gradual decay of youthful loves and youthful hopes, the quiet despair (hardly felt as pain) of ever overcoming the chronic temptations with which we have again and again defeated them, the drabness which we create in their lives and the inarticulate resentment with which we teach them to respond to it—all this provides admirable opportunities of wearing out a soul by attrition.
    C.S. Lewis  --  The Screwtape Letters
  • He’d had good experiences with almost all of them, though in his business there was an above-average rate of attrition and turnover.
    Dave Eggers  --  Zeitoun
  • On that night he took to the hills and began his long patient war of attrition against the man I was in danger of becoming.
    Pat Conroy  --  The Lords of Discipline
  • Gradually, attrition thinned the ranks.
    Laura Hillenbrand  --  Seabiscuit
  • The band suffered a lot of attrition but somehow they always kept it going.
    Robert A. Heinlein  --  Starship Troopers
  • This was a battle of attrition.
    Ted Dekker  --  Red: The Heroic Rescue
  • Whether it was attrition of other people, or whatever.
    Michael Lewis  --  The Blind Side
  • That’s where the heaviest attrition is.
    Chris Kyle  --  American Sniper
  • Given our rate of attrition, we hadn’t much reason to take the chance of being forgiven.
    Mark Helprin  --  A Soldier of the Great War
  • If the man means business, enough to devote a lifetime to it, you have only three choices: to settle, to murder, or to commit yourself to a tedious and unendable war of attrition.
    John Gardner  --  The Sunlight Dialogues
  • Lago di Pieta was near the Tyrrhenian coast, somewhere between Naples and Rome, and had been the scene of a now ignored (in 1943 tragic) battle of attrition in a minor pocket developed during the advance on Rome.
    Thomas Pynchon  --  The Crying of Lot 49
  • Eruption, earthquake, avalanche, the attrition of glacier, the erosion of water, the cracking of frost, the weathering of rain and wind and snow— these it had eternally fought and resisted in vain, yet still it stood magnificent, frowning, battle-scarred and undefeated.
    Zane Grey  --  The Call of the Canyon
  • Ultimately it was the rude coldness of Shiva’s skin, the terrible separation it delineated of the living and the dead, the disarticulation of our bound flesh, that forced me to a new understanding, a new way of seeing us in the face of such rapid attrition, and this is what I came to: Shiva and I were one being—ShivaMarion.
    Abraham Verghese  --  Cutting for Stone
  • Plan Number Six: Wage a War of Attrition.
    Yann Martel  --  Life of Pi
  • Attrition ran 70 percent in early years—but those who lived were nice people.
    Robert A. Heinlein  --  The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
  • Attrition was their wisdom.
    Eudora Welty  --  The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty
  • Attrition was their wisdom.
    Eudora Welty  --  The Golden Apples
  • So they ordered attrition warfare: fighting that would slow the Americans down and inflict maximum casualties.
    James Bradley  --  Flags of Our Fathers
  • Kuribayashi concluded attrition was the best he could expect.
    James Bradley  --  Flags of Our Fathers
  • Do you really think you can outlast his kidneys? I tell you, if you wage a war of attrition, you will lose it!
    Yann Martel  --  Life of Pi
  • The war of attrition.
    Yann Martel  --  Life of Pi
  • At the turn of the century, well over three hundred tracks had been operating nationwide; by 1908, only twenty-five remained, and the attrition continued until World War I. In California, the center of top-class western racing, the only track that survived the ban was San Bruno’s Tanforan, which barely scraped by.
    Laura Hillenbrand  --  Seabiscuit
  • Reach the Coast every time, zero attrition rate, not a scratch on them.
    Thomas Pynchon  --  The Crying of Lot 49
  • Each day was a small victory in our war of attrition.
    Pat Conroy  --  The Lords of Discipline
  • Some of the attrition was from casualties, deaths or injuries, and some of it was just from refusing to enter the capsule — which some did, and that was that; they weren’t even chewed out; they were just motioned aside and that night they were paid off.
    Robert A. Heinlein  --  Starship Troopers
  • It would be a battle of attrition on terrain that had no front lines; where the attackers were exposed and the defenders fortified; where Japanese infiltrators stalked the night; where every rock, every ditch, every open stretch of ground could conceal a burrowing, suicidal enemy.
    James Bradley  --  Flags of Our Fathers
  • With eight companies that gave us not quite a drop each week, and then it gave us a little more than a drop each week as attrition continued, whereupon the drops got tougher — over mountains, into the arctic ice, into the Australian desert, and, before we graduated, onto the face of the Moon, where your capsule is placed only a hundred feet up and explodes as it ejects — and you have to look sharp and land with only your suit (no air, no parachute) and a bad landing can spill your air…
    Robert A. Heinlein  --  Starship Troopers
  • John’s river, some quartz crystals with their edges blunted from attrition, and mixed with gravel on the sea-beach.
    Darwin, Charles  --  The Voyage of the Beagle
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Associated words [difficulty]:   attrition [5]
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