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

Neighborhoods in Cooper City that often see flooding during heavy-rain seasons may soon be alleviated. Emily Bloch, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Flamingo Townhomes to undergo 'drainage improvement project'," 13 July 2018 Giving cash directly to poor people has been shown to alleviate poverty in countries like Brazil, Mexico and India. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Why do some in the tech community support universal basic income? They’re ‘terrified’ about the future.," 11 July 2018 Likewise urbanisation, another familiar way to alleviate poverty: city-dwelling women are half as likely as rural ones to have a job. The Economist, "Why India needs women to work," 5 July 2018 The leftist politician is pledging to alleviate poverty as a way to solve the crisis of violence here, while maintaining a partnership with the United States. Joshua Partlow And David Agren, chicagotribune.com, "Mexico's presidential front-runner doesn't want to escalate the drug war," 30 June 2018 By 2049, China wants to achieve full prosperity, including alleviating poverty, inequality, and pollution. Mark Sappenfield, The Christian Science Monitor, "The costs of liberty," 15 June 2018 Later on in the evening, Olsen was given the EMA Futures Award, highlighting her involvement with The Latitude Project, an organization focused on alleviating poverty started by Jennifer and Alanna Tynan, who were also in attendance. Joelle Goldstein, The Hollywood Reporter, "Jane Fonda, Elizabeth Olsen Honored at Environmental Media Association Benefit Gala," 10 June 2018 Piper knew that white people’s fears of black people were often bound up in their misapprehension of black culture: Funk Lessons was a way to alleviate that fear. Jillian Steinhauer, The New Republic, "Adrian Piper’s art plays with identity and confronts defensiveness.," 30 May 2018 The best way to alleviate high prices is build more housing. Phillip Molnar, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Is California's solar mandate a good move?," 25 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.

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

7 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

to make amends

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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!