verb as·suage \ ə-ˈswāj also -ˈswāzh or -ˈswäzh \
|Updated on: 9 Jul 2018

Definition of assuage

assuaged; assuaging
1 : to lessen the intensity of (something that pains or distresses) : ease
  • unable to assuage their grief
2 : pacify, quiet
  • … vainly strove … to assuage an implacable foe …
  • —Edward Gibbon
3 : to put an end to by satisfying : appease, quench
  • assuaging his thirst


play \-mənt\ noun

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Examples of assuage in a Sentence

  1. Life contains sorrows that cannot be assuaged, and it is important to be honest in acknowledging this. —Jo McGowanCommonweal5 May 2006
  2. But for the second exam, my pretest diet included yogurt and ice cream (without pieces), which assuaged my hunger, and the cleansing was stimulated by a glass of salty liquid midafternoon. —Jane E. BrodyNew York Times12 July 2005
  3. Whatever arrangements such mothers willingly make for their children, whatever strategies they employ to relieve their guilt, whatever books they read to assuage their anxiety—all of that is their business, not mine. —Caitlin FlanaganAtlanticMarch 2004
  4. As I've told Jody on numerous occasions, the best way for her to assuage my guilt is to hit it big in the Internet gold rush and then retire … —Matthew MillerNew Republic17 Jan. 2000
  5. He couldn't assuage his guilt over the divorce.

  6. a mother cooing to her toddler and assuaging his fear of the dark

Recent Examples of assuage from the Web

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

assuage Stays Sweet Over Time

Scholars assume that the word assuage derives from assuaviare, a Vulgar Latin term that combines the prefix ad- (to or toward) and the Latin suavis, meaning "sweet," pleasant, or agreeable. (Suavis is also the source of the adjective suave.) To assuage is to sweeten or make agreeable or tolerable, and it is far from the only English word for relieving or softening something difficult. Others include allay, alleviate, and mitigate. Allay implies an effective calming or soothing of fears or alarms, while alleviate implies a temporary or partial lessening of pain or distress. Mitigate suggests moderating or countering the force or intensity of something painful.

Origin and Etymology of assuage

Middle English aswagen, from Anglo-French asuager, from Vulgar Latin *assuaviare, from Latin ad- + suavis sweet — more at sweet

Synonym Discussion of assuage

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

ASSUAGE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of assuage for English Language Learners

  • : to make (something, such as an unpleasant feeling) less painful, severe, etc.

ASSUAGE Defined for Kids


verb as·suage \ ə-ˈswāj \

Definition of assuage for Students

assuaged; assuaging
: to make less severe or intense
  • assuage pain
  • assuaged her grief

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one who attends or assists a leader

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