Is there a (formal register) verb meaning "to make something become rare"? In context, I would like to say "The new software will make instances/situations where you have to manually update database files rare."

The obvious bet would be "rarefy", but I suspect it does not quite capture that meaning. "Reduce" etc. also doesn't quite seem to fit the bill, does it?

  • 5
    Minimize: To reduce to the smallest possible amount, extent, size, or degree.
    – user66974
    Jul 3, 2015 at 16:48
  • Situations requiring manual update of database files will be exceptional, rather than routine, with the new software. Jul 3, 2015 at 17:54

4 Answers 4


Though this is used mostly in the context of retirement from the workplace, of being "made redundant," it fits your criteria quite closely:

superannuate (v.)

  1. To set aside or discard as old-fashioned or obsolete.

(AHD, 4th edition)

Or a less formal option:

phase out (v.)

  1. (idiomatic) To remove or relinquish the use of something little by little.

Leaded petrol was phased out in the course of the 1990s.


  • Phase out doesn’t quite work in the context given here, though I can’t really put into words what it is about it that jars. Something about manually updating database files never being a feature, always a necessary evil. Superannuate in the sense you cite is more or less synonymous with supersede, and again it implies that some feature is replacing another previous feature, which doesn’t quite fit here. Here instead, we have an improved piece of software (not a specific feature, but the software in general) that reduces the necessity of a formerly common source of annoyance. Jul 3, 2015 at 19:06
  • @JanusBahsJacquet If "It's not a bug, it's a feature" is a thing then "It's not a necessary evil, it's a feature" should be too.
    – Avon
    Jul 3, 2015 at 19:59

If the software will eliminate the need to do something, it obviates the need. If it doesn't entirely eliminate the need to do something, it makes the need all but a thing of the past.


winnow: to reduce a large number of people or things to a much smaller number by judging their quality

Cambridge Dictionaries Online

"The new software will winnow [out] the manual update of database files"


The new software will curtail (the number of) such instances.

Reduce in extent or quantity; impose a restriction on (Oxford)

From the definition and quoted examples on Vocabulary.com, you can see that the both the meaning and the usage contexts meet your requirements.

To curtail something is to slow it down, put restrictions on it, or stop it entirely. If I give up cake, I am curtailing my cake-eating.

Curtail is an official-sounding word for stopping or slowing things down. The police try to curtail crime — they want there to be less crime in the world. A company may want to curtail their employees' computer time, so they spend more time working and less time goofing around. Teachers try to curtail whispering and note-passing in class. When something is curtailed, it's either stopped entirely or stopped quite a bit — it's cut short.

Example: It also said future growth could be curtailed without greater investment in transportation infrastructure

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