ener·​vate | \i-ˈnər-vət \

Definition of enervate 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: lacking physical, mental, or moral vigor : enervated


en·​er·​vate | \ˈe-nər-ˌvāt \
enervated; enervating

Definition of enervate (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to reduce the mental or moral vigor of

2 : to lessen the vitality or strength of

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Other Words from enervate


enervatingly \ˈe-​nər-​ˌvā-​tiŋ-​lē \ adverb
enervation \ˌe-​nər-​ˈvā-​shən \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for enervate


unnerve, enervate, unman, emasculate mean to deprive of strength or vigor and the capacity for effective action. unnerve implies marked often temporary loss of courage, self-control, or power to act. unnerved by the near collision enervate suggests a gradual physical or moral weakening (as through luxury or indolence) until one is too feeble to make an effort. a nation's youth enervated by affluence and leisure unman implies a loss of manly vigor, fortitude, or spirit. a soldier unmanned by the terrors of battle emasculate stresses a depriving of characteristic force by removing something essential. an amendment that emasculates existing safeguards

Did You Know?


Enervate is a word that some people use without really knowing what it means. They seem to believe that because "enervate" looks a little bit like "energize" and "invigorate" it must share their meaning - but it is actually their antonym. "Enervate" comes from the Latin word enervare, which was formed from the prefix e-, meaning "out of," and "-nervare" (from nervus, meaning "sinew or nerve"). So, etymologically at least, someone who is enervated is "out of nerve."

Examples of enervate in a Sentence


a lifetime of working in dreary jobs had enervated his very soul the surgery really enervated me for weeks afterwards

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Such behavior is particularly enervating when the West aims to bring new countries into permanent and universal—that is, Western-style—guarantees of security and systems of relations. I. William Zartman, WSJ, "Kim Jong Un and the Art of the Asian Deal," 24 June 2018 What made West’s increasingly enervated stream of tweets so fascinating was their commitment to a principle of absolute freedom. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, "Post Malone’s White-Rapper Blues," 7 May 2018 Soderbergh's enervated editing (under his usual alias, Mary Ann Bernard) seldom locates a pulse in the feeble material, let alone one that keeps racing. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Unsane': Film Review | Berlin 2018," 21 Feb. 2018 Spending lots of time on your back, May has found, is strangely enervating -- and distracting. Andrea Simakis, cleveland.com, "Playhouse Square launches national tour of Tony-winner 'Hello Dolly!' starring Betty Buckley," 12 Feb. 2018 Frum has the pamphleteer’s flair for the scathing epithet, which can be energizing or enervating, depending on your tolerance for hyperbole. Jennifer Szalai, New York Times, "Will Democracy Survive President Trump? Two New Books Aren’t So Sure," 10 Jan. 2018 Seemingly immune to political norms, his brassy courting of scandal is frustrating attempts to effectively govern, enervating progress on health care and tax reform. Isobel Thompson, The Hive, "Fear and Loathing on Capitol Hill as Talk Turns to Impeachment," 17 May 2017 Most of the Africans dotted across the asphalt in tents or sprawled on mattresses in the enervating heat of a Roman summer have no permission to be there either. The Economist, "Unwelcome choicesItaly is facing a surge of migration across the Mediterranean," 20 July 2017 Capitalism enriches a society but also risks enervating the senses and the spirit by shrinking human aspirations into material acquisitiveness. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "Trump’s Anti-Cairo Speech," 11 July 2017

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


1603, in the meaning defined above


1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for enervate


Latin enervatus, past participle of enervare, from e- + nervus sinew — more at nerve

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Time Traveler for enervate

The first known use of enervate was in 1603

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English Language Learners Definition of enervate

: to make (someone or something) very weak or tired


transitive verb
en·​er·​vate | \ˈen-ər-ˌvāt \
enervated; enervating

Medical Definition of enervate 

1 obsolete : to cut the nerves or tendons of

2 : to lessen the vitality or strength of heat enervates people

Other Words from enervate

enervation \ˌen-​ər-​ˈvā-​shən \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on enervate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with enervate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for enervate

Spanish Central: Translation of enervate

Nglish: Translation of enervate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of enervate for Arabic Speakers

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a nest or breeding place

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