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

transitive verb

: relieve, lessen: such as
: 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
: 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
alleviation 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 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

Did you know?

Where does the word alleviate come from?

Now for a bit of light reading. Alleviate comes from Latin levis, meaning "having little weight." (Levis also gave rise to the English adjective light, as in "not heavy.") In its early days, alleviate could mean "to cause (something) to have less weight" or "to make (something) more tolerable." The literal "make lighter" sense is no longer used, and today only the "relieve" sense remains. 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.

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

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web The whole thing has a dystopian feel, but it’s alleviated near the end when Diddy appears in a realm much more heavenly and serene. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 15 Sep. 2023 Kelly Cunningham, San Diego Institute for Economic Research YES: Building housing on campus helps alleviate overcrowding and congestion across the region as students compete with other renters driving up costs. Phillip Molnar, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Sep. 2023 These types of routines can help to alleviate stress. Jolie Kerr, Better Homes & Gardens, 12 Sep. 2023 By letting sellers ship products to third-party warehouses, Amazon might be trying to alleviate some of the FTC’s concerns about the company’s expansive fulfillment operations. Emma Roth, The Verge, 12 Sep. 2023 Cutting out dairy can help manage allergies and lactose intolerance, may alleviate bloating, and might improve acne.12 A healthcare provider may advise eliminating dairy for one to four weeks. Kathleen Felton, Health, 11 Sep. 2023 Even though the kennel ordered for Helena-West Helena was small — only 12 enclosures — Smith said a robust adoption plan on the city’s part could have alleviated any concerns about the size of the shelter. Dale Ellis, Arkansas Online, 7 Sep. 2023 Some potential uses and benefits of Delta-8 THC include: Pain Relief: Delta-8 may have analgesic properties and can help alleviate pain and discomfort. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 7 Sep. 2023 Though the driving ban was lifted, attendees were advised to consider holding off on trips home until Tuesday to alleviate congestion. Aliza Chasan, CBS News, 4 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'alleviate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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


Dictionary Entries Near alleviate

Cite this Entry

“Alleviate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


al·​le·​vi·​ate ə-ˈlē-vē-ˌāt How to pronounce alleviate (audio)
alleviated; alleviating
: to make easier to put up with : relieve
alleviation noun

Medical Definition


transitive verb
al·​le·​vi·​ate ə-ˈlē-vē-ˌāt How to pronounce alleviate (audio)
alleviated; alleviating
: to make (as symptoms) less severe or more bearable
a lotion to alleviate itching
alleviation noun

More from Merriam-Webster on alleviate

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