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

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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



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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

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 People have problems in life, and better public policy has the ability to ameliorate many of those problems. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Donald Trump, the resistance, and the limits of normcore politics," 3 July 2018 That court drew up interim maps to ameliorate the Legislature’s action, leading to an additional African-American district and other gains for minorities. Brent Kendall, WSJ, "Supreme Court Upholds Texas District Maps Previously Ruled Discriminatory," 25 June 2018 This did nothing to ameliorate the problem of overcrowding. Christopher Ketcham, The New Republic, "The Future Is the Car-Free National Park," 10 Apr. 2018 The number-one factor that ameliorates death from heat is access to air conditioning. Katherine Harmon, Scientific American, "How Does a Heat Wave Affect the Human Body?," 23 July 2010 To its credit, eBay has ameliorated many of its problems, through public trial and error, over the course of nearly two decades. John Herrman, New York Times, "Want to Understand What Ails the Modern Internet? Look at eBay," 20 June 2018 But the structural issues remain, and the problems have been ameliorated, not resolved. Sean Illing, Vox, "What a 1963 RFK-James Baldwin meeting teaches us about race in Trump’s America," 8 June 2018 To be sure, many progressives still opposed certain rules President George W. Bush had put in place, but these new rules ameliorated their concerns, while also drawing the support of conservatives. Melissa Rogers, Washington Post, "President Trump just unveiled a new White House ‘faith’ office. It actually weakens religious freedom.," 14 May 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.

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First Known Use of ameliorate

1656, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for ameliorate

alteration of meliorate — see meliorate

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Last Updated

25 Aug 2018

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Time Traveler for ameliorate

The first known use of ameliorate was in 1656

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English Language Learners Definition of ameliorate

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

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a magnificent or impressive array

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