alleviate

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

Definition of alleviate

transitive verb

: relieve, lessen: such as
a : 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
b : 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from alleviate

alleviation \ -​ˌlē-​vē-​ˈā-​shən How to pronounce alleviation (audio) \ 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 \ -​ˈlē-​vē-​ˌā-​tər How to pronounce alleviator (audio) \ 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

Synonyms & Antonyms for alleviate

Synonyms

allay, assuage, ease, help, mitigate, mollify, palliate, relieve, soothe

Antonyms

aggravate, exacerbate

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Where does the word alleviate come from?

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."

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 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 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 “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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Microdosing mushrooms alleviated those feelings and tendencies to retreat into a shell of herself. Catherine Ryan Gregory, Marie Claire, "The Trip of a Lifetime," 9 July 2019 In west Africa this means alleviating the Niger delta’s chronic lawlessness. The Economist, "The Gulf of Guinea is now the world’s worst piracy hotspot," 29 June 2019 Toward that goal, World Vision’s website claims the honor of being the world’s largest non-governmental provider of water to developing nations and lists other areas of poverty that the organization seeks to alleviate. Hank Beckman, chicagotribune.com, "Darien pastor organizes runners to raise funds for clean water," 11 May 2018 Seeking to alleviate retailers' concerns, the FDA delayed implementing the rules several times to give the food industry time to comply after finalizing the menu-labeling rule in 2013. Phil Galewitz, CNN, "Obamacare's calorie count rules go into effect," 7 May 2018 It was about limited, targeted, and effective strike that sought to alleviate the humanitarian suffering of the Syrian people by degrading the Syrian regime's chemical weapons capability and deterring their use. Fox News, "US and allies defend strikes on Assad's chemical facilities," 17 Apr. 2018 The surgery sought to alleviate a problem he's had for a full year. Tania Ganguli, latimes.com, "Lakers' Isaiah Thomas begins rehab after hip surgery," 5 Apr. 2018 The office is also seeking to alleviate calls where deputies aren't necessarily needed, like when residents need to report lost or stolen property. Mayra Cruz, Houston Chronicle, "Sheriff seeks more participation in community crime meetings," 3 Mar. 2018 This new slate of projects also includes plenty of highway additions and repairs, but the suite of investments in multimodal transit should help alleviate at least some of the congestion on all that new asphalt. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Sick of traffic? Get cities to invest in bikes and mass transit, says report," 11 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'alleviate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of alleviate

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for alleviate

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about alleviate

Listen to Our Podcast about alleviate

Statistics for alleviate

Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for alleviate

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for alleviate

alleviate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of alleviate

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

alleviate

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

Kids Definition of alleviate

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

alleviate

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

Medical Definition of alleviate

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

Other Words from alleviate

alleviation \ -​ˌlē-​vē-​ˈā-​shən How to pronounce alleviation (audio) \ noun

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on alleviate

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

WORD OF THE DAY

an act or instance of editing or removing

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!