de-es·​ca·​late (ˌ)dē-ˈe-skə-ˌlāt How to pronounce de-escalate (audio)
 nonstandard  -ˈe-skyə-
de-escalated; de-escalating; de-escalates

transitive verb

: limit sense 2b
de-escalate production
tried to de-escalate the tension

intransitive verb

: to decrease in extent, volume, or scope
violence began to de-escalate
(ˌ)dē-ˌe-skə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce de-escalate (audio)
 nonstandard  -ˌe-skyə-
(ˌ)dē-ˈe-skə-lə-ˌtȯr-ē How to pronounce de-escalate (audio)
 nonstandard  -ˈe-skyə-

Examples of de-escalate in a Sentence

first, the mediator tried to de-escalate the tension in the room the fighting de-escalated as the peace talks progressed
Recent Examples on the Web Their dispute continued on Ridge Road, where officers responded to de-escalate the situation. Taylor Hartz, Hartford Courant, 13 June 2024 Based on that call, LMPD decided to not send a deflection officer, trained to de-escalate, provide emotional support and problem solve for the person in crisis. Rachel Smith, The Courier-Journal, 24 May 2024 Security was able to de-escalate the encounter, which occurred just after Carter, 25, and her teammates had arrived at their Washington, D.C. hotel in advance of a game against the Washington Mystics on June 6, ESPN reported. Anna Lazarus Caplan, Peoplemag, 6 June 2024 And so the work to de-escalate is work that is ongoing. Jake Sheridan, Chicago Tribune, 12 May 2024 Organizers picked up trash and de-escalated the occasional tensions that arose between police and protesters. Sarah Blaskey, Miami Herald, 23 May 2024 Under new policies, the department is training all of its officers on how to plan, gather appropriate resources, control the pace, communicate, de-escalate and document. Sally Krutzig, Idaho Statesman, 21 May 2024 Gary Raney, a former sheriff in Idaho and a corrections consultant, said deputies should have done more to de-escalate the situation. Christopher Damien, New York Times, 18 May 2024 Walker put stop sticks down in an attempt to de-escalate the situation but was struck by the suspect's vehicle. Ashlyn Messier, Fox News, 15 May 2024

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

Word History

First Known Use

1964, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of de-escalate was in 1964

Dictionary Entries Near de-escalate

Cite this Entry

“De-escalate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


: to decrease in extent, volume, or scope
de-escalate the war
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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