alleviate

verb
al·le·vi·ate | \ə-ˈlē-vē-ˌāt \
alleviated; alleviating

Definition of alleviate 

transitive verb

: 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

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Other Words from alleviate

alleviation \-ˌlē-vē-ˈā-shən \ noun
alleviator \-ˈlē-vē-ˌā-tər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for alleviate

Synonyms

allay, assuage, ease, help, mitigate, mollify, palliate, relieve, soothe

Antonyms

aggravate, exacerbate

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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 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 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 “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
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Recent Examples on the Web

Due in part to a grant from the Georgia Public Library Service, the Fayette County Public Library in Fayetteville will soon get some major repairs that will alleviate patron complaints about water leaks and odors. Jill Howardchurch, ajc, "Renovations planned for Fayette library," 20 June 2018 He was asked if a tax issue on the ballot could alleviate some of the financial strain. Beth Mlady, cleveland.com, "Need for new revenue a recurring topic for Brook Park officials," 11 May 2018 There is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis, but therapy and medication can alleviate some of its symptoms. Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker, "William Barber Takes on Poverty and Race in the Age of Trump," 7 May 2018 If that doesn't alleviate your fears, the Aerospace Corp. says that the chance of space debris hitting someone on Earth is less than one in 1 trillion. D. Kwas, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Southern Wisconsin is in the re-entry path of a Chinese space station — but it's a big path," 28 Mar. 2018 Here are some options in Dallas-Fort Worth that may alleviate that teen angst. Maricar Estrella, star-telegram, "Planning a party for a teen? Avoid the angst with these DFW options | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 23 Mar. 2018 After the fact, more frequently than not, President Trump has managed to make concessions that have alleviated some of these concerns. Sarah Ponczek, Bloomberg.com, "Wall Street Divided After Global Equity Wipeout Nears $1 Trillion," 23 Mar. 2018 The longest scoring drought of Graham Zusi’s career coincided with a move to the back line, a shift that essentially alleviated his scoring responsibility. Sam Mcdowell, kansascity, "Sporting KC’s offense on display once more in first home victory of 2018 | The Kansas City Star," 17 Mar. 2018 The California Department of Motor Vehicles is expanding Saturday service to alleviate long wait times for driver license and other services at its field offices. Kathleen Pender, SFChronicle.com, "California DMV will expand Saturday hours to trim interminable waits," 13 July 2018

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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Last Updated

19 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for alleviate

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

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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 \
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 \
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 \ noun

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