len·​i·​tive ˈle-nə-tiv How to pronounce lenitive (audio)
: alleviating pain or harshness : soothing
lenitive noun
lenitively adverb

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Lenitive first appears in English in the 15th century. It derives from the Latin verb lenire ("to soften or soothe"), which was itself formed from the adjective lenis, meaning "soft" or "mild." Lenire also gave us the adjective lenient, which usually means "tolerant" or "indulgent" today but in its original sense carried the meaning of "relieving pain or stress." Often found in medical contexts, lenitive can also be a noun referring to a treatment (such as a salve) with soothing or healing properties.

Word History


Middle English lenitif, from Middle French, from Medieval Latin lenitivus, from Latin lenitus, past participle of lenire

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of lenitive was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near lenitive

Cite this Entry

“Lenitive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lenitive. Accessed 24 Sep. 2023.

Medical Definition


1 of 2 adjective
len·​i·​tive ˈlen-ət-iv How to pronounce lenitive (audio)
: alleviating pain or harshness


2 of 2 noun
: a lenitive medicine or application
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