de·​bil·​i·​tate | \ di-ˈbi-lə-ˌtāt How to pronounce debilitate (audio) , dē- \
debilitated; debilitating

Definition of debilitate

transitive verb

: to impair the strength of : enfeeble sailors debilitated by scurvy an economy debilitated by years of civil war

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Other Words from debilitate

debilitation \ di-​ˌbi-​lə-​ˈtā-​shən How to pronounce debilitation (audio) , dē-​ \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for debilitate

weaken, enfeeble, debilitate, undermine, sap, cripple, disable mean to lose or cause to lose strength or vigor. weaken may imply loss of physical strength, health, soundness, or stability or of quality, intensity, or effective power. a disease that weakens the body's defenses enfeeble implies a condition of marked weakness and helplessness. enfeebled by starvation debilitate suggests a less marked or more temporary impairment of strength or vitality. the debilitating effects of surgery undermine and sap suggest a weakening by something working surreptitiously and insidiously. a poor diet undermines your health drugs had sapped his ability to think cripple implies causing a serious loss of functioning power through damaging or removing an essential part or element. crippled by arthritis disable suggests bringing about impairment or limitation in a physical or mental ability. disabled by an injury sustained at work

Examples of debilitate in a Sentence

The virus debilitates the body's immune system. the heart surgery debilitated the college athlete beyond his worst fears
Recent Examples on the Web Ernie has rekindled a romance with his long-ago high school girlfriend Connie (Linda Emond), who’s secretly suffering from debilitating brain seizures. Darren Franich,, "Save Lodge 49, save the world," 30 Oct. 2019 Country star Drake White is battling a debilitating brain condition. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Country Star Drake White Is Battling a Devastating Brain Condition," 24 Aug. 2019 Warriors coach Steve Kerr has struggled processing that their failed championship run coincided with losing Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to debilitating injuries. Mark Medina, The Mercury News, "Is this end of the Warriors’ dynasty? Steve Kerr says ‘no’," 15 June 2019 That’s until their all-out blitz on third-and-20 debilitated them shortly before halftime, and Minkah Fitzpatrick and the Steelers took advantage. Kenny Rosarion,, "Instant Analysis: Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Miami Dolphins 14," 28 Oct. 2019 And yet, in the overall picture of a program’s progress, a loss would not be debilitating. George Schroeder, USA TODAY, "A Georgia win against Florida is critical for the Bulldogs to get where they want to be," 1 Nov. 2019 The procedure, which left patients disfigured if not debilitated, was based on the then-prevailing belief that breast cancer spread directly from the original tumor. Emily Langer, Washington Post, "Bernard Fisher, pioneering breast cancer surgeon-scientist, dies at 101," 23 Oct. 2019 The sanctions Trump then imposed have further debilitated Iran’s economy, sending it to 50% inflation. Karim Sadjadpour, Time, "Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei Is One Despot Trump Might Not Win Over," 3 Oct. 2019 For patients suffering from debilitating epileptic seizures, several studies provide evidence that CBD may be an effective addition to the treatment regimen. Lloyd Minor, Fortune, "Why Google’s Crackdown on Fake Medicine Is So Important," 9 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'debilitate.' 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 debilitate

1533, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for debilitate

Latin debilitatus, past participle of debilitare to weaken, from debilis weak

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Time Traveler for debilitate

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The first known use of debilitate was in 1533

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Last Updated

10 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Debilitate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for debilitate


How to pronounce debilitate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of debilitate

formal + technical : to make (someone or something) weak : to reduce the strength of (someone or something)


de·​bil·​i·​tate | \ di-ˈbi-lə-ˌtāt How to pronounce debilitate (audio) \
debilitated; debilitating

Kids Definition of debilitate

: to make feeble : weaken a debilitating disease


transitive verb
de·​bil·​i·​tate | \ di-ˈbil-ə-ˌtāt How to pronounce debilitate (audio) \
debilitated; debilitating

Medical Definition of debilitate

: to impair the strength of a body debilitated by disease

Other Words from debilitate

debilitation \ -​ˌbil-​ə-​ˈtā-​shən How to pronounce debilitation (audio) \ noun

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Comments on debilitate

What made you want to look up debilitate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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