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

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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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web What can be done are limited agreements on individual topics that can alleviate some Palestinian misery. CBS News, "Biggest factor in U.S.-Middle East relations is perception that U.S. is withdrawing," 6 Jan. 2021 The researchers have their fingers crossed that the snakes are safe to eat, which could alleviate the struggle to eradicate the species from the Everglades. Rasha Aridi, Smithsonian Magazine, "Could Invasive Burmese Pythons Soon Be on the Menu in Florida?," 30 Dec. 2020 Socialists, liberals, and leftists have long advocated for more generous benefits to families that would alleviate some of the financial burden many parents currently shoulder alone. Caleb Brennan, The New Republic, "Operation Santa Is a Horror Story About American Poverty," 25 Dec. 2020 And mass vaccinations, which may alleviate the situation, are still months away. Phil Wahba, Fortune, "14 of the biggest bankruptcies of 2020—and who might be next in 2021," 21 Dec. 2020 So far, research from all over the world suggests the drugs can break old mental patterns and help fight addiction, alleviate depression, shrink existential fears, and improve relationships. Sarah Scoles, Popular Science, "What happens when psychedelics make you see God," 9 Nov. 2020 The Alexander Technique is a system that seeks to decondition harmful body movements to improve posture and alleviate pain. Garrett Munce, Town & Country, "Don't Be a Slouch: Here's How to Perfect Your Posture," 27 Oct. 2020 The organization champions causes that alleviate the suffering of companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife. Melanie Savage, courant.com, "On the 50th Anniversary of the Horse Protection Act, there is still much work to do," 14 Dec. 2020 Those individuals include people who work on the front lines in the state’s hospitals, which officials hope will alleviate some of the major staffing issues that Alaska has seen recently. Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News, "The first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are expected to arrive in Alaska in the next couple days," 13 Dec. 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.

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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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Time Traveler for alleviate

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for alleviate

Last Updated

12 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Alleviate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alleviate. Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for alleviate

alleviate

verb
How to pronounce alleviate (audio)

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

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Comments on alleviate

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