verb al·le·vi·ate \ə-ˈlē-vē-ˌāt\

Definition of alleviate



  1. transitive verb
  2. :  relieve, lessen: as a :  to make (as suffering) more bearable <her sympathy alleviated his distress> b :  to partially remove or correct <measures taken to alleviate a labor shortage>


play \-ˌlē-vē-ˈā-shən\ noun


play \-ˈlē-vē-ˌā-tər\ noun

Examples of alleviate in a sentence

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. finding ways to alleviate stress

  7. <a car pool alleviates some of the stress of driving the kids to and from school every day>

  8. Where was someone to alleviate this robbery of his life? —“The End of the World” P. 531, THE BOOK THIEF, Markus Zusak, Alfred A. Knopf, N.Y. © 2005

  9. The relationship between king and parliament went nowhere. Bitter speeches were made on both sides, which James’s late attempts at mollification did little to alleviate. —“Four” P. 64, GOD’S SECRETARIES, Adam Nicolson, HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 220.5 N54g ©2003

  10. “I’m feeding a lot of excitement myself.” In fact, I felt an instant euphoria at Kimmery’s alleviating presence. If this was the prospect of Zen I was ready to begin my training. —“One Mind” P. 194, MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN [fiction], Jonathan Lethem, Vintage Books 813.54 L34m (1999) 2001

Did You Know?

Alleviate derives from the past participle of Late Latin alleviare ("to lighten or relieve"), which in turn was formed by combining the prefix ad- and the adjective "levis," a Latin word meaning "light" or "having little weight." ("Levis" comes from the same ancient word that gave rise to "light" in English.) We acquired "alleviate" in the 15th century, and for the first few centuries the word could mean either "to cause (something) to have less weight" or "to make (something) more tolerable." The literal "make lighter" sense is no longer used, however, so today we have only the "relieve" sense. 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."

Origin and Etymology of alleviate

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

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of 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>.

ALLEVIATE Defined for English Language Learners


verb al·le·vi·ate \ə-ˈlē-vē-ˌāt\

Definition of alleviate for English Language Learners

  • : to reduce the pain or trouble of (something) : to make (something) less painful, difficult, or severe

ALLEVIATE Defined for Kids


verb al·le·vi·ate \ə-ˈlē-vē-ˌāt\

Definition of alleviate for Students



  1. :  to make less painful, difficult, or severe <A good long rest alleviated her headache.>

Medical Dictionary


transitive verb al·le·vi·ate \ə-ˈlē-vē-ˌāt\

Medical Definition of alleviate




  1. :  to make (as symptoms) less severe or more bearable <a lotion to alleviate itching>


\-ˌlē-vē-ˈā-shən\play noun

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up alleviate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to decrease in size, extent, or degree

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