less·​en | \ˈle-sᵊn \
lessened; lessening\ ˈles-​niŋ , 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

The change lessens the chance that fraudsters would be able to intercept and reuse a card number. Annamaria Andriotis, WSJ, "Visa, Mastercard Push for One-Click Ordering. Retailers Say ‘Not So Fast’," 24 May 2018 Even if does do produce fawns, those fawns’ chances of survival are significantly lessened if range conditions are poor. Shannon Tompkins Staff Writer, San Antonio Express-News, "Texas summer key factor in wildlife cycle," 17 May 2018 One way to contextualize these rising diagnosis rates is that as autism touches more families and communities, perhaps ignorance and stigma can be lessened and a more inclusive future achieved. Morgan Sykes, The Cut, "The Complicated Reasons Autism Rates Are Still on the Rise," 27 Apr. 2018 Recently, preventative measures have also been implemented at Condé Nast (the publisher of Teen Vogue) to lessen the danger faced by models working with its publications. Amira Rasool, Teen Vogue, "Karl Lagerfeld's #MeToo Comment Highlights Exactly What's Wrong With the Fashion Industry," 20 Apr. 2018 The trade for Jarvis Landy lessens the need to take an early shot at a wide receiver. Mark Maske, chicagotribune.com, "2018 NFL draft: The lingering critical needs for every team," 17 Apr. 2018 But in Britten, a nanosecond of hesitation lessens the impact of the music. David Patrick Stearns, Philly.com, "Philly Grammy winner Jennifer Higdon delights Chicago with a new world premiere, coming here soon," 2 Feb. 2018 The developer kit lessens the development load that manufacturers have to take on when making an Alexa-friendly accessory. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Alexa could live in headphones, wearables thanks to new developer kit," 5 Jan. 2018 Because air is much lighter than water, the bottle’s weight lessens as the balloon fills with more air. Svenja Lohner, Scientific American, "Floating with a Swim Bladder," 5 July 2018

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

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Dictionary Entries near lessen







lesser adjutant

Statistics for lessen

Last Updated

10 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for lessen

The first known use of lessen was in the 13th century

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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 \
lessened; lessening

Kids Definition of lessen

: to make or become fewer or smaller in amount

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Comments on lessen

What made you want to look up lessen? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


by force of circumstances

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