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 \ ə-​ˌlē-​vē-​ˈā-​shən How to pronounce alleviate (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 \ ə-​ˈlē-​vē-​ˌā-​tər How to pronounce alleviate (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

Antonyms

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web For Gray, those who claim to live for others only want to alleviate their own pain. Christian Alejandro Gonzalez, National Review, "What Cats Can Teach Humans," 21 Feb. 2021 Reducing the number of things occupying the limited space behind your ears is one way to avoid having to regularly untangle hearing devices from mask ear loops, and can also help alleviate pain, experts say. Washington Post, "Don’t choose between masks and hearing aids. Here’s how to comfortably wear both.," 12 Feb. 2021 The vibration helps enhance circulation and can alleviate pain, making a massage gun the perfect solution for rehabbing stiff muscles. Stefani Sassos, Ms, Rdn, Cso, Good Housekeeping, "12 Tips to Optimize Muscle Recovery, According to Fitness Experts," 14 Jan. 2021 The trailer also includes a preview of some of the series' antics, which apparently include testing the theory that swearing helps alleviate pain. Tyler Aquilina, EW.com, "Nicolas Cage gives a f‑‑‑ (or three) in Netflix's History of Swear Words trailer," 22 Dec. 2020 Now the government hopes to access emergency funds from the International Monetary Fund to alleviate its economic pain and is likely to seek forgiveness for some of its $64 billion national debt. Declan Walsh New York Times, Star Tribune, "Sudan celebrates 'new era' as U.S. drops it from terrorism list," 14 Dec. 2020 Women may be more likely to use it to alleviate pain, sleep difficulties, anxiety and other health issues, according to Amy Abernethy, a top official with the Food and Drug Administration. Tiffany Kary, Bloomberg.com, "CBD’s Differing Effects on Women and Men Under FDA Scrutiny," 19 Nov. 2020 The failure of Congress and the Trump administration to reach a stimulus deal means more small businesses will surely fail, state and local layoffs may accelerate and no stimulus checks are coming to alleviate the pain for consumers anytime soon. Matt Egan, CNN, "America just posted a record GDP growth rate. Now brace for the slowdown," 29 Oct. 2020 Really, the only way to help alleviate the pain was to tell their favorite stories about Gibson. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, "More than a legend: Bob Gibson's death leaves baseball world in mourning," 3 Oct. 2020

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

Time Traveler for alleviate

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about alleviate

Statistics for alleviate

Last Updated

1 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Alleviate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alleviate. Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

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 alleviate (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

Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

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!