al·​lay a-ˈlā How to pronounce allay (audio)
allayed; allaying; allays

transitive verb

: to subdue or reduce in intensity or severity : alleviate
expect a breeze to allay the heat
: to make quiet : calm
trying to allay their fears

intransitive verb

obsolete : to diminish in strength : subside
Choose the Right Synonym for allay

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

Examples of allay in a Sentence

The new advertising campaign is an attempt to allay the public's concerns about the safety of the company's products. a gentle breeze would allay the heat
Recent Examples on the Web Washington — Several days after President Biden's shaky debate performance, the president, his campaign and the Democratic Party have failed to allay the concerns of a number of Democratic lawmakers and financial backers. Kaia Hubbard, CBS News, 3 July 2024 The president’s performance on Thursday will have done nothing to allay their worries. Karen Tumulty, Washington Post, 28 June 2024 Some who were addicted to alcohol were provided liquor to allay their cravings and head off withdrawal. Claire Thornton, USA TODAY, 4 June 2024 The conviction in Wilmington – where the Biden family is considered political royalty – seemed to allay some concerns that the jury might treat Mr. Biden deferentially and acquit him, at least in part because of his family’s prominence. Patrik Jonsson, The Christian Science Monitor, 11 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for allay 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'allay.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English alayen, from Old English ālecgan, from ā- (perfective prefix) + lecgan to lay — more at abide, lay

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of allay was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near allay

Cite this Entry

“Allay.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


al·​lay a-ˈlā How to pronounce allay (audio)
allayed; allaying
: to make less severe : relieve
allay pain
: to make quiet : calm
allay fears

More from Merriam-Webster on allay

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