less·​en | \ ˈle-sᵊn How to pronounce lessen (audio) \
lessened; lessening\ ˈles-​niŋ How to pronounce lessen (audio) , ˈle-​sᵊn-​iŋ \

Definition of lessen

intransitive verb

: to shrink in size, number, or degree : decrease The pain will lessen over time.

transitive verb

1 : to reduce in size, extent, or degree lessen tensions between nations
2a archaic : to represent as of little value
b : to lower in status or dignity : degrade

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Choose the Right Synonym for lessen

decrease, lessen, diminish, reduce, abate, dwindle mean to grow or make less. decrease suggests a progressive decline in size, amount, numbers, or intensity. slowly decreased the amount of pressure lessen suggests a decline in amount rather than in number. has been unable to lessen her debt diminish emphasizes a perceptible loss and implies its subtraction from a total. his visual acuity has diminished reduce implies a bringing down or lowering. you must reduce your caloric intake abate implies a reducing of something excessive or oppressive in force or amount. the storm abated dwindle implies progressive lessening and is applied to things growing visibly smaller. their provisions dwindled slowly

Examples of lessen in a Sentence

Medication helps lessen the severity of the symptoms. we lessened our efforts as it became clear they weren't having an effect
Recent Examples on the Web And as more people become vaccinated, the concern about transmissibility will lessen. Madeline Buckley, chicagotribune.com, "You’ve gotten your second COVID-19 vaccination. When will your life get back to normal?," 25 Feb. 2021 If it were connected to other states, this would lessen its reliability problems. Jamie Long And Nick Frentz, Star Tribune, "Texan suffering shows value of Minnesota's energy planning," 18 Feb. 2021 That would lessen the danger to financial stability from reliance on purely private payment systems. The Economist, "What is the fuss over central-bank digital currencies?," 16 Feb. 2021 The agreement would lessen reliance on getting additional doses from other manufacturers. Ed Silverman, STAT, "Pharmalittle: EU and AstraZeneca clash over Covid-19 vaccine; J&J is bullish about vaccine supplies," 27 Jan. 2021 The change, which takes effect immediately, could lessen restrictions in in the Southern California, Bay Area and San Joaquin Valley regions, which were still under stay-at-home orders, unless local officials adopt stronger restrictions. Taryn Luna, Los Angeles Times, "Newsom cancels California’s COVID-19 stay-at-home orders," 24 Jan. 2021 Would having players cease traveling for a bit really lessen their exposure? Eric Walden, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Eric Walden: Is it time for the NBA to hit the pause button on this season?," 15 Jan. 2021 That didn’t lessen his respect for what his alma mater accomplished this year. Ben Thomas | Bthomas@al.com, al, "Would former Tide DB Sam Shade want a shot at DeVonta Smith? ‘At no point’," 14 Jan. 2021 Poor Black communities would turn a corner within a single generation, and the sense that America never gets past race would significantly lessen. John Mcwhorter, Washington Post, "Biden Should ...," 15 Jan. 2021

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

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Time Traveler for lessen

Time Traveler

The first known use of lessen was in the 14th century

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Statistics for lessen

Last Updated

3 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Lessen.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lessen. Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for lessen



English Language Learners Definition of lessen

: to become less or to cause (something) to become less


less·​en | \ ˈle-sᵊn How to pronounce lessen (audio) \
lessened; lessening

Kids Definition of lessen

: to make or become fewer or smaller in amount

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