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verb as·suage \ə-ˈswāj also -ˈswāzh or -ˈswäzh\

Simple Definition of assuage

  • : to make (something, such as an unpleasant feeling) less painful, severe, etc.

Full Definition of assuage


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to lessen the intensity of (something that pains or distresses) :  ease <unable to assuage their grief>

  3. 2 :  pacify, quiet <vainly strove … to assuage an implacable foe — Edward Gibbon>

  4. 3 :  to put an end to by satisfying :  appease, quench <assuaging his thirst>

as·suage·ment play \-mənt\ noun

Examples of assuage

  1. Life contains sorrows that cannot be assuaged, and it is important to be honest in acknowledging this. —Jo McGowan, Commonweal, 5 May 2006

  2. But for the second exam, my pretest diet included yogurt and ice cream (without pieces), which assuaged my hunger, and the cleansing was stimulated by a glass of salty liquid midafternoon. —Jane E. Brody, New York Times, 12 July 2005

  3. Whatever arrangements such mothers willingly make for their children, whatever strategies they employ to relieve their guilt, whatever books they read to assuage their anxiety—all of that is their business, not mine. —Caitlin Flanagan, Atlantic, March 2004

  4. As I've told Jody on numerous occasions, the best way for her to assuage my guilt is to hit it big in the Internet gold rush and then retire … —Matthew Miller, New Republic, 17 Jan. 2000

  5. He couldn't assuage his guilt over the divorce.

  6. <a mother cooing to her toddler and assuaging his fear of the dark>

Origin of assuage

Middle English aswagen, from Anglo-French asuager, from Vulgar Latin *assuaviare, from Latin ad- + suavis sweet — more at sweet

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of assuage

relieve, alleviate, lighten, assuage, mitigate, allay mean to make something less grievous. relieve implies a lifting of enough of a burden to make it tolerable <took an aspirin to relieve the pain>. alleviate implies temporary or partial lessening of pain or distress <the lotion alleviated the itching>. lighten implies reducing a burdensome or depressing weight <good news would lighten our worries>. assuage implies softening or sweetening what is harsh or disagreeable <ocean breezes assuaged the intense heat>. mitigate suggests a moderating or countering of the effect of something violent or painful <the need to mitigate barbaric laws>. allay implies an effective calming or soothing of fears or alarms <allayed their fears>.

Seen and Heard

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February 13, 2016

a trying or distressing experience

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