ener·​vate | \ i-ˈnər-vət How to pronounce enervate (audio) \

Definition of enervate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: lacking physical, mental, or moral vigor : enervated


en·​er·​vate | \ ˈe-nər-ˌvāt How to pronounce enervate (audio) \
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

Other Words from enervate


enervatingly \ ˈe-​nər-​ˌvā-​tiŋ-​lē How to pronounce enervate (audio) \ adverb
enervation \ ˌe-​nər-​ˈvā-​shən How to pronounce enervate (audio) \ 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

Frequently Asked Questions About enervate

What is the difference between enervate and innervate?

Enervate and innervate are pronounced in a very similar manner and share the Latin root nervus (meaning "sinew"), but they are distinct in meaning. Enervate (as a verb) means "to lessen the vitality or strength of," while innervate means "to supply with nerves."

What is the difference between enervate and energize?

Enervate has the twin misfortune of sharing a beginning with energize and an ending with invigorate, causing many people to assume that it must overlap with these two words in meaning. However, it is roughly the opposite, meaning "to lessen the vitality or strength of." This is a common mistake, but has not yet become so common as to be accepted.

Can enervate be an adjective?

Yes, enervate can function as an adjective, with the meaning of "lacking physical, mental, or moral vigor." An example of such adjectival use can be found in the poem Ode to Drowshood, by Charles G. D. Roberts: "In fervid sunshine, where the Javan palm stirs, scarce awakened from its odorous calm by the enervate wind…."

Examples of enervate in a Sentence

Verb 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 This relationship, when successful, tends to enervate mediating institutions that thwart the immediate desires of both the populist leader and the public. Cameron Hilditch, National Review, 28 Feb. 2021 The saving grace of this often enervating thriller is that Doscher grants time for his actors to build character and intimacy, and both Pinto and Odom offer warm, affectingly natural performances as two people facing the end of their world. Teo Bugbee, New York Times, 5 Mar. 2020 To a great extent, that reflects the endless, enervating nature of the Brexit debate. Mark Landler, New York Times, 31 Jan. 2020 Jack’s enervating recovery in The Way Back is full of drab, predictable pathos instead of the stylized drama in Dawn of Justice. Armond White, National Review, 6 Mar. 2020 Perhaps the most intimate of these photographs presents her after a shower, wet and enervated, rubbing a cloth across her reflection in a mirror, as though the condensation were crud. Eren Orbey, The New Yorker, 6 Feb. 2020 Then again, enervating her supporters has been Madonna’s M.O. in recent years. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 3 July 2019 But the art which resists the slow sap of a chronic disease—which repairs frames enervated by lust, swollen by gluttony, or inflamed by wine . . Chris Pope, WSJ, 17 Mar. 2019 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, 24 June 2018 See More

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.

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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The first known use of enervate was in 1603

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Cite this Entry

“Enervate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enervate. Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for enervate


transitive verb
en·​er·​vate | \ ˈen-ər-ˌvāt How to pronounce enervate (audio) \
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 How to pronounce enervate (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on enervate

Nglish: Translation of enervate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of enervate for Arabic Speakers


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