alleviate

verb
al·le·vi·ate | \ ə-ˈlē-vē-ˌāt \
alleviated; alleviating

Definition of alleviate 

transitive verb

: relieve, lessen: such as

a : to make (something, such as suffering) more bearable Her sympathy alleviated his distress.

b : to partially remove or correct (something undesirable) measures taken to alleviate a labor shortage

Keep scrolling for more

Other words from alleviate

alleviation \-ˌlē-vē-ˈā-shən \ noun
alleviator \-ˈlē-vē-ˌā-tər \ noun

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

Under the new system, there will be 4,500 fewer local government radio users on the system, which should alleviate any surges the system faces, said Tracy Jackson, Broward County’s director of regional public safety and emergency services. Martin Vassolo, miamiherald, "Flawed 911 system ‘absolutely’ affected response to Parkland shooting," 11 July 2018 How cannabidiol alleviates seizures at a molecular level, though, remains unclear. Lizzie Johnson, SFChronicle.com, "Berkeley boy was ‘Patient X’ in first FDA-approved medicine derived from marijuana," 8 July 2018 Psychotherapy is the primary treatment for DID, although medication may alleviate symptoms (depression, anxiety, etc.). Philip Chard, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Emotional trauma can lead to dissociative identity disorder," 3 July 2018 Quigley says alleviating that burden was a mission for the Johnson County Housing Coalition, whose properties were aimed at families making less than $24,000 per year. Lynn Horsley, kansascity, "JoCo agency gave low-income residents a lifeline. Now it's shutting down," 1 July 2018 Your other adrenal gland should pick up the slack for its defunct partner after that, which will likely alleviate your symptoms. Nina Bahadur, SELF, "11 Potential Causes of Those Night Sweats That Leave You Drenched," 30 June 2018 Only a vast public effort could make a dent in alleviating the structures of poverty. Bryce Covert, Longreads, "Pay the Homeless," 29 June 2018 The Heat certainly could get involved in someone else's deal, which also could potentially alleviate some of the Heat's luxury-tax concerns. Ira Winderman, Sun-Sentinel.com, "ASK IRA: Are Heat turning toward developmental mode?," 28 June 2018 At One Central Park in Sydney, hydroponic plants require no soil and minimal water to thrive, alleviating the issue of structural overloading. Ken Wells, WSJ, "More Buildings Are Going Green. Literally.," 26 June 2018

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

21 Sep 2018

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 \
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 \
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 \ 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

occurring twice a year or every two years

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

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!