as·​suage ə-ˈswāj How to pronounce assuage (audio)
 also  -ˈswāzh,
 or  -ˈswäzh
assuaged; assuaging

transitive verb

: to lessen the intensity of (something that pains or distresses) : ease
unable to assuage their grief
: pacify, quiet
… vainly strove … to assuage an implacable foe …Edward Gibbon
: to put an end to by satisfying : appease, quench
assuaging his thirst
ə-ˈswāj-mənt How to pronounce assuage (audio)
 also  -ˈswāzh-
 or  -ˈswäzh-

Did you know?

Assuage Stays Sweet Over Time

If you’ve ever wanted to learn how the, ahem, assuage gets made, today is your lucky day—we’ve got a sweet story to quell your hunger for word knowledge. Assuage comes from the Latin adjective suavis, meaning—you guessed it—“sweet.” (Sweet itself is also a distant relation.) Perhaps recalling Mary Poppins (as played by Julie Andrews in the titular film) singing to the Banks children will make the link indelible: “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” To assuage something painful or distressing, such as fear, guilt, or grief, is to lessen its intensity the way, say, saccharine grape flavoring helps mask some of the bitterness of cough syrup. Similarly, to assuage hunger or thirst—as for lexicographical trivia, perhaps—is to end it by satisfying it fully. We hope you’re satisfied!

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of assuage in a Sentence

Life contains sorrows that cannot be assuaged, and it is important to be honest in acknowledging this. Jo McGowan, Commonweal, 5 May 2006
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. Brody, New York Times, 12 July 2005
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 Flanagan, Atlantic, March 2004
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 Miller, New Republic, 17 Jan. 2000
He couldn't assuage his guilt over the divorce. a mother cooing to her toddler and assuaging his fear of the dark
Recent Examples on the Web In an interview with NPR, NASA director Bill Nelson assuages any fears of an unsupervised Elon Musk running a space agency by reminding us that SpaceX is actually run by its president Gwynne Shotwell. Logan Carter / Jalopnik, Quartz, 7 May 2024 The ban never came into force, however, despite a second attempt by TfL in 2019, after Uber assuaged regulators’ concerns following the departure of combative cofounder Travis Kalanick. Byryan Hogg, Fortune Europe, 2 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for assuage 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'assuage.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of assuage was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near assuage

Cite this Entry

“Assuage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


as·​suage ə-ˈswāj How to pronounce assuage (audio)
assuaged; assuaging
: to lessen or make easier to bear : soothe, ease
assuagement noun

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