Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb, \ə-ˈbāt\

Simple Definition of abate

  • : to become weaker : to decrease in strength

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of abate


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to put an end to <abate a nuisance> b :  nullify 1 <abate a writ>

  3. 2 a :  to reduce in degree or intensity :  moderate <may abate their rancor to win peace> b :  to reduce in value or amount :  make less especially by way of relief <abate a tax>

  4. 3 :  deduct, omit <abate part of the price>

  5. 4 a :  to beat down or cut away so as to leave a figure in relief b obsolete :  blunt

  6. 5 :  deprive 2

  7. intransitive verb
  8. 1 :  to decrease in force or intensity

  9. 2 a :  to become defeated or become null or void b :  to decrease in amount or value

abater noun

Examples of abate in a sentence

  1. For a while, in the Cold War's aftermath, the public fascination for espionage may abate, though somehow I doubt it. —John le Carré, Boston Globe, 19 Nov. 1989

  2. At about six, as the heat abated, people began to crowd the streets and marketplaces, and to fill the cafés. —Milton Viorst, New Yorker, 12 Oct. 1987

  3. But his attitude of sullen grievance and simmering fury never abated fully. —Joseph Heller, God Knows, 1984

  4. We waited for the wind to abate.

  5. <interest in the author's home abated as her novels waned in popularity>

Origin of abate

Middle English, from Anglo-French abatre to strike down — more at rebate

First Known Use: 13th century

Synonym Discussion of abate

abate, subside, wane, ebb mean to die down in force or intensity. abate stresses the idea of progressive diminishing <the storm abated>. subside implies the ceasing of turbulence or agitation <the protests subsided after a few days>. wane suggests the fading or weakening of something good or impressive <waning enthusiasm>. ebb suggests the receding of something (as the tide) that commonly comes and goes <the ebbing of daylight>.

synonyms see in addition decrease

Rhymes with abate

ablate, adnate, aerate, age-mate, agnate, airdate, airfreight, alate, arête, await, backdate, baldpate, bandmate, baseplate, bedmate, bedplate, berate, birthrate, bistate, bite plate, blank slate, blind date, blue plate, bookplate, breastplate, casemate, castrate, caudate, cell plate, cerate, cheapskate, checkmate, chelate, chordate, citrate, classmate, clavate, cognate, collate, comate, conflate, connate, Cook Strait, cordate, create, cremate, crenate, curate, cut-rate, deadweight, death rate, debate, deflate, delate, dentate, derate, dictate, dilate, disrate, donate, doorplate, downstate, drawplate, elate, end plate, equate, estate, faceplate, falcate, fellate, filtrate, first-rate, fishplate, fixate, flatmate, floodgate, fluxgate, flyweight, folate, formate, frustrate, gelate, gestate, ground state, gyrate, hamate, hastate, headgate, Hell Gate, helpmate, home plate, hot plate, housemate, hydrate, ice-skate, inflate, ingrate, inmate, innate, instate, irate, jailbait, Kuwait, lactate, lapse rate, legate, liftgate, ligate, lightweight, liquate, lobate, locate, lunate, lustrate, lych-gate, lyrate, magnate, makebate, makeweight, mandate, messmate, migrate, misstate, mutate, nameplate, narrate, negate, Newgate, nitrate, notate, nutate, oblate, of late, orate, ornate, ovate, palmate, palpate, peltate, phonate, pinnate, placate, playdate, playmate, plicate, portrait, postdate, predate, prime rate, probate, prolate, pronate, prorate, prostate, prostrate, punctate, pupate, quadrate, rain date, ramate, rebate, red-bait, relate, restate, roommate, rostrate, rotate, saccate, schoolmate, seatmate, sedate, sensate, septate, serrate, shipmate, short weight, slave state, soleplate, soul mate, spectate, spicate, squamate, stagnate, stalemate, stellate, striate, sublate, substrate, sulcate, summate, tailgate, teammate, Tebet, tenth-rate, ternate, terneplate, testate, third-rate, tinplate, to date, toeplate, tollgate, tractate, translate, tristate, truncate, unweight, update, uprate, upstate, V-8, vacate, vallate, valvate, vibrate, virgate, vulgate, whitebait, workmate

ABATE Defined for Kids


verb \ə-ˈbāt\

Definition of abate for Students


  1. :  to make or become less <The flood abated slowly.>

abatement \-mənt\ noun <The noise continued without abatement.>

Law Dictionary


verb \ə-ˈbāt\

Legal Definition of abate


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to put an end to or do away with <abate a nuisance> b :  to make void :  nullify <abate an action>

  3. 2 :  to reduce in amount especially proportionately <abate a tax>

  4. intransitive verb
  5. 1 :  to become defeated or become null or void <when a public officer who is a party to an appeal…in an official capacity dies…the action does not abateFederal Rules of Appellate Procedure Rule 43>

  6. 2 :  to decrease in amount or value <the legacies abated proportionately>

Additional Notes on abate

A problem arises in estate law when the amount of the bequests and devises made in a will exceeds the assets available in the estate. In such a case, some or all of the bequests and devises may have to be abated to make up the deficit. Under the Uniform Probate Code, property in the estate that is not given under the will abates first, residuary devises abate second, general devises abate third, and specific devises abate last.

Origin of abate

Old French abattre, literally, to knock down, from a-, prefix stressing result + battre to beat

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up abate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


tending to dismiss important matters

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of these is a synonym of nonplus?

perplex disapprove reduce soothe
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.