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 Notoriously competitive, these companies will likely fight against any deal that would lessen the impact of their sponsorships. oregonlive, 18 July 2021 Hey, Mary Kay: Is there any possibility that the Browns franchise tag and then trade Wyatt Teller next offseason to prevent them from having to pay him long-term, while still being able to acquire assets that would lessen the blow of his departure. Mary Kay Cabot, cleveland, 18 July 2021 To jettison their hidebound economies, which have led to low productivity and waste, oil-rich economies should commit to reforms that lessen obstacles to innovation and entrepreneurship. CNN, 8 July 2021 Additional federal funding made available since the budget was adopted has also helped support the streetcar and lessen the amount that is expected to be pulled from the transportation fund to $1.5 million this year. Margaret Cahill, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3 July 2021 This might be handier since the cover story is already established and this might lessen suspicions by any potential crooks that might decide to use those particular self-driving cars. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 12 June 2021 Even as the country swings toward a semblance of normalcy as pandemic rules lessen, Labovitz said last year’s increase in visitors proved the dunes’ popularity. Carole Carlson, chicagotribune.com, 4 June 2021 Normalizing our mistakes can also lessen our kids’ fear of failure, say experts. Washington Post, 4 May 2021 While Priesol notes that repeated exposure may lessen the effects over time, taking breaks is key. Whitson Gordon, Wired, 22 Apr. 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

25 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Lessen.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lessen. Accessed 25 Jul. 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

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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