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 Larger stones that are causing debilitating pain and/or blocking your urinary tract might need more intensive treatment, according to the NIDDK. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "7 Signs & Symptoms of Kidney Stones You Need to Know," 12 Nov. 2019 Considering all of the misdeeds Sierra admitted to in her press conference, only something big could save her — something like apprehending the mastermind of two nationally debilitating heists. Ariana Romero,, "How Can The Money Heist Crew Survive That Finale Disaster?," 7 Apr. 2020 Half of Americans suffer from some degree of insufficient sleep, from missing a few occasional hours, to debilitating insomnia and other sleep disorders. Rudy Sanchez,, "Legal weed is making an impact on the billion dollar sleep market," 25 Nov. 2019 The unavailability of these services could debilitate millions of urban Indian households, potentially sparking panic amid the strict restrictions on movement. Itika Sharma Punit, Quartz India, "Just when panicked urban Indians needed them the most, online grocers are being forced shut," 24 Mar. 2020 Some officials believe that foreign powers, possibly including Russia, could use ransomware attacks, like those that have debilitated some local governments, to damage or interfere with voting systems or registration databases. Nicholas Fandos, New York Times, "Lawmakers Are Warned That Russia Is Meddling to Re-elect Trump," 11 Mar. 2020 Despite trade progress with China, there's still debilitating uncertainty created by President Trump's trade war. Mark Zandi For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, "Last year, I predicted a recession in 2020. Risks have receded, but not for long," 26 Dec. 2019 The condition is thought to affect the way the brain processes pain signals, amplifying their intensity and thereby causing chronic, debilitating pain, according to Mayo Clinic. Bel Banta,, "I'm a 22-Year-Old With Fibromyalgia—and Some Days I Wish I Could Detach Myself From My Body," 31 Oct. 2019 Social isolation is debilitating to seniors, but especially those impacted by this disease. Donald Liebenson,, "Glencoe library offers kits to entertain, stimulate dementia patients," 7 Oct. 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

15 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Debilitate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 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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