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

Example Sentences

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 second call Milley made was on Jan. 8, 2021, two days after the Capitol riot, to alleviate Li's concerns about the steadiness of the U.S. government and how that might impact China's national security. Tara Kavaler, The Arizona Republic, 15 Jan. 2023 Reducing food waste can also help alleviate local traffic and improve air quality. Dallas News, 10 Jan. 2023 Blending cotton with linen helps alleviate the rumpling and wrinkling that linen is notorious for. Brad Lanphear, Men's Health, 6 Jan. 2023 By Christmas Day, hundreds of Southwest flights were awaiting crew assignments even as improving weather helped alleviate a majority of its ground operational woes and competitors were restoring their schedules. Ryan Beene, Fortune, 28 Dec. 2022 This will help calm down your system, alleviate tension with your partner, and lighten your spirit. Nevin Martell,, 22 Dec. 2022 Inthis 2012 study, for example, researchers found licorice could alleviate airway diseases and calm the stomach while also exhibiting anti-inflammatory effects, anti-diabetic properties, and blood sugar supporting effects, among other benefits. Brian Robinson, Discover Magazine, 29 Nov. 2022 The name change helps alleviate any possible confusion with the buying public and allows the brand’s oldest EV to stand on its own. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 9 Nov. 2022 The agency gathered a panel of experts Tuesday to discuss what could be done to alleviate this racial disparity and make sure the devices are safe for everyone. Karen Kaplanscience And Medicine Editor, Los Angeles Times, 1 Nov. 2022 See More

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.

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 26 Jan. 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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