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 Attempting to allay Russian concern about extending the security of NATO membership to former Warsaw Pact and then to former Soviet Union countries, NATO professed to have no reason to station either nuclear weapons or substantial combat forces in the new member countries. Kori Schake, The Atlantic, 16 July 2023 Crews worked around the clock and wrapped up ahead of schedule, allaying fears the critical highway would be closed for many weeks. Michael Rubinkam, Anchorage Daily News, 23 June 2023 In recent weeks, the Biden administration has sought to allay these concerns. Jami Miscik, Foreign Affairs, 24 May 2023 Elizabeth Reid, the vice president of engineering for Search, who demoed SGE for me, tried to allay such fears. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, 11 May 2023 During an August news conference to announce Rowland’s would-be headline appearance, Scott tried to allay concerns. Emily Opilo, Baltimore Sun, 1 Sep. 2023 The pair outlined their goals to the young team — and their parents — and tried to allay fears the equity fight could jeopardize their budding soccer careers. Rachel Pannett, Washington Post, 18 July 2023 Meta is not in the business of allaying those fears. Tracey Lindeman, WIRED, 28 Aug. 2023 Happily, her husband, music director of the Wichita and Binghamton Symphony Orchestras, allayed her trepidation and encouraged her to give it a shot. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, 24 Aug. 2023 See More

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 3 Oct. 2023.

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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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