verb al·le·vi·ate \ ə-ˈlē-vē-ˌāt \
|Updated on: 10 Aug 2018

Definition of alleviate

alleviated; alleviating
: 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


play \-ˌlē-vē-ˈā-shən\ noun


play \-ˈlē-vē-ˌā-tər\ noun

alleviate was our Word of the Day on 08/19/2017. Hear the podcast!

Examples of alleviate in a Sentence

  1. 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 ZwerdlingGourmetAugust 2004
  2. 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 CohnNew Republic14 Oct. 2002
  3. 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 SimondsGourmetSeptember 2002
  4. 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. SilverNew York Times Book Review27 Feb. 2000
  5. 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 SchneiderAudubonMarch/April 1994
  6. finding ways to alleviate stress

  7. a car pool alleviates some of the stress of driving the kids to and from school every day

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. “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

Recent Examples of alleviate from the Web

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.

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."

Origin and Etymology of alleviate

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

ALLEVIATE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of alleviate for English Language Learners

  • : to reduce the pain or trouble of (something) : to make (something) less painful, difficult, or severe

ALLEVIATE Defined for Kids


verb al·le·vi·ate \ ə-ˈlē-vē-ˌāt \

Definition of alleviate for Students

alleviated; alleviating
: to make less painful, difficult, or severe A good long rest alleviated her headache.

Medical Dictionary


transitive verb al·le·vi·ate \ ə-ˈlē-vē-ˌāt \

medical Definition of alleviate

alleviated; alleviating
: to make (as symptoms) less severe or more bearable
  • a lotion to alleviate itching


play \-ˌlē-vē-ˈā-shən\ noun

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very hard to disturb or upset

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