ame·​lio·​rate | \ə-ˈmēl-yə-ˌrāt, -ˈmē-lē-ə-\
ameliorated; ameliorating

Definition of ameliorate 

transitive verb

: to make better or more tolerable medicine to ameliorate the pain

intransitive verb

: to grow better

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from ameliorate

amelioration \ -​ˌmēl-​yə-​ˈrā-​shən , -​ˌmē-​lē-​ə-​ \ noun
ameliorative \ -​ˈmēl-​yə-​ˌrā-​tiv , -​ˈmē-​lē-​ə-​ \ adjective
ameliorator \ -​ˌrā-​tər \ noun
amelioratory \ -​rə-​ˌtȯr-​ē \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for ameliorate


amend, better, enhance, enrich, help, improve, meliorate, perfect, refine, upgrade



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for ameliorate

improve, better, help, ameliorate mean to make more acceptable or to bring nearer a standard. improve and better are general and interchangeable and apply to what can be made better whether it is good or bad. measures to further improve the quality of medical care immigrants hoping to better their lot help implies a bettering that still leaves room for improvement. a coat of paint would help that house ameliorate implies making more tolerable or acceptable conditions that are hard to endure. tried to ameliorate the lives of people in the tenements

Did You Know?

Ameliorate traces back to "melior," the Latin adjective meaning "better," and is a synonym of the verbs "better" and "improve." When is it better to use "ameliorate"? If a situation is bad, "ameliorate" indicates that the conditions have been made more tolerable. Thus, one might refer to drugs that ameliorate the side effects of chemotherapy; a loss of wages ameliorated by unemployment benefits; or a harsh law ameliorated by special exceptions. "Improve" and "better" apply when what is being made better can be good or bad (as in "the weather improved" and "she bettered her lot in life"), and they should certainly be chosen over "ameliorate" when something good is getting better still ("he improved his successful program"; "she bettered her impressive scores").

Examples of ameliorate in a Sentence

The disparate impact of the risk imposed by the "loser pays" rule can be ameliorated. Indeed, there are features of the British legal system which have led some observers to find the rule … to be considerably more benign to poorer litigants. — Edward F. Sherman, Texas Law Review, June 1998 And, after all, some illnesses are psychogenic. Many can be at least ameliorated by a positive cast of mind. — Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World, 1996 Even the abolitionists gave their attention not to the task of ameliorating conditions among slaves but to transforming slaves into free people. — John Hope Franklin, "The Land of Room Enough," 1981, in Race and History1989 trying to ameliorate the suffering of people who have lost their jobs This medicine should help ameliorate the pain.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

As Democrats and some Republicans have called for an end to the policy, GOP President Donald Trump has blamed Congress for not passing a broader immigration overhaul that might have ameliorated the problem. Melanie Grayce West, WSJ, "70 Separated Migrant Children in New York Shelters, Gov. Cuomo Says," 19 June 2018 During a quarter-century of on-off negotiations, human rights have played second fiddle for U.S. administrations seeking to ameliorate the threat posed by the North's nukes, and there's a reason. Matthew Pennington,, "At Trump-Kim summit, human rights is a back-burner issue," 11 June 2018 FedAccount would implicitly change the central bank’s mission, from catering to bankers to serving the public, which might help ameliorate another crisis: a lack of faith in government institutions. David Dayen, The New Republic, "Give Everyone Government Bank Accounts," 13 June 2018 And while Congress could still help ameliorate next year’s increases, that appears increasingly unlikely. Julie Rovner, Washington Post, "Consumers Brace For Premium Hikes While Lawmakers Grasp At Remedies," 11 May 2018 Exercise can ameliorate some of the effects of nerve damage. Lynn Peterson Mobley, Washington Post, "My athletic husband stumbled. He was tired. He had a disease we’d never heard of.," 8 July 2018 This said, the party could try to ameliorate the subjective conditions fueling its struggles with culturally conservative whites. Eric Leivtz, Daily Intelligencer, "For Democrats, Immigration Is a Political Problem Without a Policy Solution," 2 July 2018 But man’s competing desire for precedence and equality can be ameliorated by drawing distinctions in context—private and public, informal and professional. Alexandra Hudson, WSJ, "No Country for Old Pretentious Titles," 29 June 2018 To ameliorate the conditions of African Americans living in Charleston going forward, the resolution pledges to work with businesses, schools, and cultural institutions to strive for racial equality and inclusion. Hallie Detrick, Fortune, "The City of Charleston is Considering a Slavery Apology. Here's What It Would Say," 19 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ameliorate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of ameliorate

1656, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for ameliorate

alteration of meliorate — see meliorate

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ameliorate

Share ameliorate

Listen to Our Podcast about ameliorate

Statistics for ameliorate

Last Updated

3 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ameliorate

The first known use of ameliorate was in 1656

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ameliorate



English Language Learners Definition of ameliorate

: to make (something, such as a problem) better, less painful, etc.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on ameliorate

What made you want to look up ameliorate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


full of whispering sounds

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!