less·​en | \ ˈle-sᵊn How to pronounce lessen (audio) \
lessened; lessening\ ˈles-​niŋ How to pronounce lessening (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 Keith has argued that the burden should be lessened on Huntsville taxpayers for a facility designed to attract out-of-town visitors, who should share in the cost of the amphitheater. Paul Gattis | Pgattis@al.com, al, "Check out new drawings of proposed $40 million Huntsville amphitheater," 24 Apr. 2020 Given such strong arguments for vaccination, Graham said racial disparities in flu vaccines can be lessened if not eliminated. Jayne O'donnell, USA TODAY, "'Tuskegee always looms in our minds': Some fear black Americans, hardest hit by coronavirus, may not get vaccine," 19 Apr. 2020 That could help lessen the internalized feelings of failure and depression that are so common after layoffs. Sarah Todd, Quartz at Work, "The most ethical way for leaders to communicate about the prospect of layoffs," 9 Apr. 2020 Some long-dead misogynist at one point hunched over the manuscript and picked off certain letters from Mary’s name, one paper fiber at a time, then penned in new characters to change the word and lessen Mary’s impact. Rachel Lance, Time, "How New Efforts Are Recovering the Stories of People Who Were Deleted From History," 7 Apr. 2020 And the only reason the tariffs haven't been more damaging is that their impact was lessened by the Trump tax cuts and a looser Federal Reserve. James Pethokoukis, TheWeek, "Trump just ran a two-year trade war experiment. It failed.," 17 Jan. 2020 The good news for the Celtics is that the sting from Irving’s departure was lessened by the arrival of another All-Star point guard, Kemba Walker. BostonGlobe.com, "Observations as Kemba Walker (39 points) returns to help Celtics top Nets - The Boston Globe," 28 Nov. 2019 That is pocket-change for Charles Koch, whose political commitments will in no way be lessened by his brother’s demise. The Economist, "The Kochtopus’s garden," 29 Aug. 2019 This cuts down on the potential to infect other people and lessens the burden on the healthcare system. Travel + Leisure, "How to Help Healthcare Workers and Emergency Responders Fighting Coronavirus," 20 Apr. 2020

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

25 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Lessen.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lessen. Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for lessen


How to pronounce lessen (audio)

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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More from Merriam-Webster on lessen

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lessen

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lessen

Spanish Central: Translation of lessen

Nglish: Translation of lessen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lessen for Arabic Speakers

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