alleviate

verb
al·​le·​vi·​ate | \ ə-ˈlē-vē-ˌāt How to pronounce alleviate (audio) \
alleviated; alleviating; alleviates

Essential Meaning of alleviate

: to reduce the pain or trouble of (something) : to make (something) less painful, difficult, or severe The doctor tried to alleviate [=relieve] her symptoms/suffering. finding ways to alleviate stress See More ExamplesThe new tunnel should alleviate [=lessen, reduce] traffic on the bridge. government programs that are intended to alleviate [=reduce] povertyHide

Full 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

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 "having little weight," which also gave rise to the adjective light (as in "not heavy") 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, and 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 In an effort to alleviate pressure on officers, the department has been relying on non-patrol officers to volunteer for patrol shifts to meet staffing needs, the media report said. Fox News, 11 Jan. 2022 Some experts are hopeful that Omicron will peak quickly, which would help alleviate the pressure on hospitals. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, 7 Jan. 2022 Connecting the expressways of Suzhou, Wuxi and Changzhou, it was built to alleviate traffic pressure on the cities next to Lake Taihu while promoting the economic development of the cities in Yangtze River Delta area. CNN, 4 Jan. 2022 The rain and snow is expected to stick around for much of the Pacific Northwest through Saturday before conditions alleviate Sunday. Melissa Alonso, CNN, 8 Jan. 2022 In Oregon, Airbnb is trying a radical experiment to try and alleviate hosts’ discriminatory practices by altering the way a guest profile name would appear amidst the process of booking. Rayna Reid, Essence, 6 Jan. 2022 LeMahieu said Evers could alleviate the problem by boosting pay for nursing home workers using federal aid. Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6 Jan. 2022 As student loan borrowers suffer financially, others say the president isn’t acting to cancel student loans and alleviate their challenges. Zack Friedman, Forbes, 5 Jan. 2022 Edgerton also launched SpineX, a company that uses electrical stimulation devices to stimulate the spinal cord and alleviate various conditions. Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times, 30 Dec. 2021

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

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Last Updated

24 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Alleviate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alleviate. Accessed 25 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for alleviate

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

More from Merriam-Webster on alleviate

Nglish: Translation of alleviate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of alleviate for Arabic Speakers

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