al·​le·​vi·​ate ə-ˈlē-vē-ˌāt How to pronounce alleviate (audio)
alleviated; alleviating; alleviates

transitive verb

: relieve, lessen: such as
: to make (something, such as pain or suffering) more bearable
a drug that alleviates the symptoms
using relaxation techniques to alleviate stress
To draw customers, [Richard G.] Rosenberg became certified in pedorthics—an area that involves the design, make and modification of shoes to alleviate foot ailments.Dana Hedgpeth
: to partially remove or correct (something undesirable)
government programs to alleviate poverty
Enticing retirees into the work force to alleviate the current labor shortage …Cullen Murphy
alleviation noun
the alleviation of arthritic pain
… the stability of the developed world is as dependent on alleviation of problems in the third world as on the ability to keep the nuclear arms race under control. Carl Marcy
alleviator noun
plural alleviators
… firefighters' camaraderie with the city and with each other is the biggest stress alleviator, [former Boston Fire Commissioner Paul] Christian said. Justine Hoffher

Did you know?

Where does the word alleviate come from?

Now for a bit of light reading. Alleviate comes from Latin levis, meaning "having little weight." (Levis also gave rise to the English adjective light, as in "not heavy.") In its early days, alleviate could mean "to cause (something) to have less weight" or "to make (something) more tolerable." The literal "make lighter" sense is no longer used, and today only the "relieve" sense remains. Incidentally, not only is alleviate a synonym of relieve, it's also a cousin; relieve comes from levare ("to raise"), which in turn comes from levis.

Choose the Right Synonym for alleviate

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 alleviate in a Sentence

For decades, as you probably know, researchers have found that when you tell patients that you're giving them medicine, many report that their symptoms are alleviated, even if they're only taking sugar pills. Daniel Zwerdling, Gourmet, August 2004
Granholm has spent the morning giving a major public address on state finance issues, courting local officials in meetings, and, in between, talking with me. We'd discussed the state of the Michigan economy and her ideas for developing a new high-tech corridor outside Detroit that focuses on homeland security innovation; we went over her ideas for alleviating overcrowding in the state's emergency rooms. Jonathan Cohn, New Republic, 14 Oct. 2002
When applied in ointment form, capsaicin helps alleviate the discomfort of arthritis and psoriasis. Taken internally as a diluted tincture, it helps keep the blood flowing smoothly and strengthens the cardiovascular system. Nina Simonds, Gourmet, September 2002
Ridley, a British journalist with a doctoral degree in zoology, does touch on the incredible potential of genetics for alleviating human misery.  … But much of his remarkable book is focused on a higher plane of pure intellectual discovery. Lee M. Silver, New York Times Book Review, 27 Feb. 2000
Before discussing what must be done to alleviate the environmental and social crises afflicting the globe, Chief Oren Lyons … of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation, wanted to drive to a gym in Syracuse, New York, and watch his son shadowbox. Paul Schneider, Audubon, March/April 1994
finding ways to alleviate stress a car pool alleviates some of the stress of driving the kids to and from school every day See More
Recent Examples on the Web Assigning a personal definition of success alleviates the pressures of typical examples of success. Ashley Stahl, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 But so far researchers have failed to demonstrate that a build-up of amyloid causes dementia — or that removing it alleviates symptoms. Melody Petersen, Los Angeles Times, 14 Feb. 2024 All treatments are carefully designed to alleviate tension, muscle pain, and inflammation while promoting circulation, tissue repair, and recovery. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 13 Feb. 2024 If successful, District officials say, the approach will free up overburdened emergency responders and alleviate strain on hospitals still confronting pandemic-era staffing shortages. Jenna Portnoy, Washington Post, 13 Feb. 2024 His arrival could allow Minnesota to alleviate the minute load for Conley, Jaden McDaniels and even Anthony Edwards, who’ve been asked to carry a heavy burden of late. Jace Frederick, Twin Cities, 11 Feb. 2024 To help alleviate that, the Education Department has allowed school districts to revise calendars at midyear. Nwa Democrat-Gazette,, 9 Feb. 2024 Experiencing painful withdrawal is not only uncomfortable, but sometimes dangerous: In many cases, people experiencing severe symptoms rush to use opioids again in an effort to alleviate their pain, potentially leading to a second overdose almost immediately following the first. Lev Facher, STAT, 8 Feb. 2024 Each of the new or revamped spaces will have hundreds of seats for travelers, aiming to alleviate concerns of overcrowding and prevent long wait times. To help tackle the overcrowding issue in its lounges, Delta announced new Sky Club entry rules for its credit card holders last fall. Jessica Puckett, Condé Nast Traveler, 8 Feb. 2024 See More

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

Word History


Late Latin alleviatus, past participle of alleviare, from Latin ad- + levis light — more at light

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of alleviate was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near alleviate

Cite this Entry

“Alleviate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


al·​le·​vi·​ate ə-ˈlē-vē-ˌāt How to pronounce alleviate (audio)
alleviated; alleviating
: to make easier to put up with : relieve
alleviation noun

Medical Definition


transitive verb
al·​le·​vi·​ate ə-ˈlē-vē-ˌāt How to pronounce alleviate (audio)
alleviated; alleviating
: to make (as symptoms) less severe or more bearable
a lotion to alleviate itching
alleviation noun

More from Merriam-Webster on alleviate

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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