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 Honeywell is helping the airbase improve fuel supply reliability via natural gas, increase security and lessen the risk of groundwater and soil contamination. Benjamin Laker, Forbes, 1 June 2021 Some also say the ATF has increasingly adopted an industry-friendly approach to lessen the risk of a backlash that could lead to budget cuts or additional limits on its authority. USA Today, 27 May 2021 The goal is to lessen the risk by maintaining a defensible space that does not add fuel to a fire. oregonlive, 25 May 2021 This leads to a softening of edges and dulling of hallmarks that may tamper with the watch’s design and lessen its value. Brynn Wallner, Harper's BAZAAR, 24 May 2021 That’s especially true as government regulations shift to reflect rising vaccination rates and as employers roll out new policies to lessen the risk of the coronavirus’ transmission. Los Angeles Times, 20 May 2021 Friedrich’s ruling was a setback to efforts by President Biden to help tenants and lessen the financial damage caused by the pandemic. BostonGlobe.com, 6 May 2021 In other words, susceptible cows should be culled to lessen the risk of new infections. Kent Sepkowitz, CNN, 4 May 2021 The indefinite pause in production, however, will likely reduce the amount of new content Netflix subscribers in India see, and thus lessen the chances of a breakout cultural phenomenon. Adam Epstein, Quartz, 29 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

7 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Lessen.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lessen. Accessed 14 Jun. 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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