wear away at

wear away at (someone or something)

1. To erode, dissolve, or strip away something as a result of prolonged exposure to some destructive element or force. The ocean waves have been wearing away at these cliffs for millennia. Rust wore away at the car over the years.
2. To weaken or diminish someone's capacity for something. The kids' constant pleas and complaints wore away at my resolve not to get them more ice cream. Her patience was worn away by all the silly questions.
3. To discourage or dishearten someone over time; to gradually sap someone of their energy, conviction, enthusiasm, joy, etc. I know that spending so many years working at that soulless, dead-end job wore away at my dad. The pressure and workload of college is really starting to wear away at me.
See also: away, wear
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

wear away at someone or something

to annoy or diminish someone or something. Facing the same problems year after year was wearing away at the president of the company. The rain wore away at the stone through time.
See also: away, wear
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
4 Rain, rivers, or even people digging for fossils wear away at the rock layers to reveal the buried fossils.