ameliorate

verb
ame·​lio·​rate | \ ə-ˈmēl-yə-ˌrāt How to pronounce ameliorate (audio) , -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 How to pronounce amelioration (audio) , -​ˌmē-​lē-​ə-​ \ noun
ameliorative \ -​ˈmēl-​yə-​ˌrā-​tiv How to pronounce ameliorative (audio) , -​ˈmē-​lē-​ə-​ \ adjective
ameliorator \ -​ˌrā-​tər How to pronounce ameliorator (audio) \ noun
amelioratory \ -​rə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce amelioratory (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for ameliorate

Synonyms

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

Antonyms

worsen

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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

In fact, the unfolding response to the conditions at the border shows exactly how civil liberties and constitutional governance work together to ameliorate genuine crises. David French, National Review, "In the New York Times, a ‘Human Rights’ Professor Calls for Mob Rule," 1 July 2019 As a result, the cases become romantic narratives; the label allows families and communities to absorb the shock of these deaths, to ameliorate the fear of violence with a narrative of love and commitment. Ann Neumann, Harper's magazine, "Going to Extremes," 10 June 2019 But there are different approaches to ameliorating it. National Geographic, "Beneath the Ice: Talking Glaciers with M Jackson," 12 June 2019 As usual, the biggest culprit is government, which is why the Trump administration’s plan to ameliorate the problem should be met with caution. Allysia Finley, WSJ, "Trump’s Dubious Prescription-Price Plan," 5 Apr. 2019 Cutting legacy debt obligations helps Mr. Rosselló ameliorate politically unpopular rate hikes without further imperiling Prepa’s finances. Andrew Scurria, WSJ, "Puerto Rico Power Utility Reaches Deal With Bondholders," 30 July 2018 Far better, then, if journalists and social media companies voluntarily work together to ameliorate the harms that hacks pose to our society. Nathaniel Zelinsky, Vox, "The case for not publishing hacked emails," 14 July 2018 Hungary’s government has said the law will help ameliorate one of the thriving economy’s weak spots: a small and shrinking labor pool. Drew Hinshaw, WSJ, "Budapest Hit by Protests Over ‘Slave Law’," 16 Dec. 2018 If someone has an allergy, talk to them ahead of the visit to ameliorate any difficulties. Robin Tribble, Popular Mechanics, "How to Make Sure Your Pets Have a Happy Holiday Too," 12 Nov. 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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Statistics for ameliorate

Last Updated

14 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for ameliorate

The first known use of ameliorate was in 1656

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More Definitions for ameliorate

ameliorate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of ameliorate

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

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an act or instance of editing or removing

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