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

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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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web

At the same time, local zoning politics have badly overegged the ability of urban homeowners, in the name of resisting traffic, sprawl or crime, to block development that would alleviate California’s dire urban housing shortage. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "California Burns for Better Leaders," 15 Jan. 2019 He is licensed in both Ohio and Kentucky and is dedicated to providing the most current treatment strategies which alleviate pain and restore function for his patients to return to an active healthy lifestyle. Orthocincy, Cincinnati.com, "Stem cell injections or knee replacement," 4 June 2018 Over the past few months, the defense establishment and several international agencies have been working on several plans to alleviate the dire situation in the coastal enclave. Jewish Journal, "Palestinian Authority outraged as White House says it will push regional peace plan," 10 July 2018 The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is taking some steps to attempt to alleviate traffic on state roads. Felicia Gans, BostonGlobe.com, "‘Terrible Tuesday’: The worst Fourth of July traffic is expected today," 3 July 2018 While President Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to end the family separations, instead allowing indefinite detention of families together, that has done little to alleviate the issue. Emily Dreyfuss, WIRED, "'ICE Is Everywhere': Using Library Science to Map the Separation Crisis," 25 June 2018 To alleviate that pressure, UEFA has privately discussed the idea of moving the final away from Europe occasionally: to New York, to Miami, to Doha. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Champions League Final Is a Tight Fit in Kiev. So How About New York?," 21 May 2018 Physicians started to prescribe powerful new opioids, sometimes to alleviate even minor complaints. Jonathon Keats, Discover Magazine, "Building a Better Painkiller," 11 May 2018 Under the supervision of his doctor, Robin started taking different anti-psychotic medications, but each prescription only seemed to alleviate some symptoms while making others worse. Dave Itzkoff, HWD, "Inside the Final Days of Robin Williams," 8 May 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.

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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

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Last Updated

9 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for alleviate

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

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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

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