verb de·bil·i·tate \ di-ˈbi-lə-ˌtāt , dē- \
Updated on: 22 Feb 2018

Definition of debilitate

debilitated; debilitating
transitive verb
: to impair the strength of : enfeeble
  • sailors debilitated by scurvy
  • an economy debilitated by years of civil war


play \-ˌbi-lə-ˈtā-shən\ noun

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Examples of debilitate in a Sentence

  1. The virus debilitates the body's immune system.

  2. the heart surgery debilitated the college athlete beyond his worst fears

Recent Examples of debilitate from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of debilitate

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

DEBILITATE Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of debilitate for English Language Learners

  • : to make (someone or something) weak : to reduce the strength of (someone or something)

DEBILITATE Defined for Kids


verb de·bil·i·tate \ di-ˈbi-lə-ˌtāt \

Definition of debilitate for Students

debilitated; debilitating
: to make feeble : weaken
  • a debilitating disease

Medical Dictionary


transitive verb de·bil·i·tate \ di-ˈbil-ə-ˌtāt \

medical Definition of debilitate

debilitated; debilitating
: to impair the strength of
  • a body debilitated by disease


play \-ˌbil-ə-ˈtā-shən\ noun

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having a quality expressive of sadness

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