Simple Definition of exacerbate
: to make (a bad situation, a problem, etc.) worse
Examples of exacerbate in a sentence
The declining retirement security faced by growing numbers of Americans is being exacerbated by increasing longevity and quickly rising health care costs. —Jeff Madrick, New York Review of Books, 20 Mar. 2008
… the sway that pack journalism holds on the Beltway press corps persists. The Crowd is never so influential as in the ever-lengthening season of presidential campaigns. The feverish obsessions of the blogosphere have only exacerbated the phenomenon: Now the herd just turns faster in pursuit of some ginned-up “controversy” or faux scandal. —Editor & Publisher, April 2007
The proposed factory shutdown would only exacerbate our unemployment problems.
His angry comments have exacerbated tensions in the negotiation process.
Did You Know?
Make it a point to know that the Latin adjective acer, meaning "sharp," forms the basis of a number of words that have come into English. The words acerbic ("having a bitter temper or sour mood"), acrid ("having a sharp taste or odor"), and acrimony ("a harsh manner or disposition") are just the tip of the iceberg. First appearing in English in the 17th century, exacerbate derives from the Latin prefix ex-, which means "out of" or "outside," and acerbus, which means "harsh" or "bitter" and comes from acer. Just as pouring salt in a wound worsens pain, things that exacerbate can cause a situation to go from bad to worse. A pointed insult, for example, might exacerbate tensions between two rivals.
Origin and Etymology of exacerbate
Latin exacerbatus, past participle of exacerbare, from ex- + acerbus harsh, bitter, from acer sharp — more at edge
First Known Use: 1660
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