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

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 An idea to lessen the impact, floated by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last week, involved imposing tariffs or a price cap on Russia's oil instead of an outright embargo. Arkansas Online, 30 Apr. 2022 Keep your clothes in great condition: Shopping less is the best way to lessen your environmental impact. Emma Seymour, Good Housekeeping, 21 Apr. 2022 Watson said Americans are not in for an endless cycle of variant after variant that requires masking and social distancing: Increasing immunity over time, especially as more of the world gets vaccinated, will lessen the impact of the coronavirus. Washington Post, 15 Apr. 2022 Biden plans to outline his administration's actions to lessen the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on domestic energy and gas prices. NBC News, 31 Mar. 2022 And the same globalized world that allows for the quick isolation of a government can also provide that same government potential workarounds to lessen the impact of international action. Ted Anthony, ajc, 1 Mar. 2022 The leak, in effect, locks in the five majority judges in favor of overturning Roe and limits the body's ability to make any changes that might lessen its scope in the name of avoiding damage to the high court's credibility. Dan Carson, Chron, 3 May 2022 Moms are also concerned that even when the pandemic is over, many of the problems exacerbated over the past few years will continue, including staff shortages that lessen their ability to plan for the future. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1 Mar. 2022 The idea is to use this data to help countries devise policies that lessen the health impact of climate change. Matt Reynolds, Wired, 18 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of lessen

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

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

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Last Updated

26 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Lessen.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lessen. Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for lessen


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

Kids Definition of lessen

: to make or become fewer or smaller in amount

More from Merriam-Webster on lessen

Nglish: Translation of lessen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lessen for Arabic Speakers


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