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

At home, the young man also persuaded his mom to get rid of Wi-Fi to lessen the temptation. Martha Irvine, The Seattle Times, "He’s a ‘tech addict’ who works in Seattle area’s tech industry," 26 Dec. 2018 The Queen, who is patron to the small matter of over 600 charities, previously handed over 25 of her roles to Princes Harry and William, as well as Kate Middleton, in an effort to lessen her work load a little ahead of her 90th birthday. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Queen Elizabeth Will Pass on Her Royal Patronage to Meghan Markle in the New Year," 17 Dec. 2018 Accusing Soros of being behind so many of today’s largest demonstrations of civil unrest is a method used to lessen the impact of these movements. Jameelah Nasheed, Teen Vogue, "After Years of George Soros Conspiracy Theories, Someone Targeted His Home with an Explosive Device," 23 Oct. 2018 Lawmakers are also considering ways to lessen the impact of new minimum monthly charges to solar users. Jon Chesto, BostonGlobe.com, "Mass. lawmakers wrap up work on energy legislation," 13 July 2018 The lawsuits filed by Common Ground Healthcare and other health insurers stem from one of the provisions in the Affordable Care Act designed to lessen the initial risk that insurers would take on by selling health plans on the new marketplaces. Guy Boulton, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Health insurers file suit for billions of dollars from federal government over Affordable Care Act commitments," 2 July 2018 Agencies across the country are avoiding the use of deadly force by teaching their officers techniques on how to slow things down, talk and employ techniques to lessen the volatility. Cynthia Sewell, idahostatesman, "Training, mental health, growth behind Idaho's spike in police shootings, says expert," 2 July 2018 Many advocacy groups are clamoring for tighter gun laws with hopes that such approaches would keep guns out of schools and lessen the need for buttoning up schools. Arika Herron, Indianapolis Star, "We don’t know how safe Indiana schools are. Here’s why.," 10 June 2018 Time frames for drug production has been significantly reduced as time to shift a lab's production is lessened, White said. Jordyn Hermani, Indianapolis Star, "Lilly opens new building; officials thank Trump tax cuts," 29 June 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

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

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Dictionary Entries near lessen







lesser adjutant

Statistics for lessen

Last Updated

3 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for lessen

The first known use of lessen was in the 14th 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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More from Merriam-Webster on lessen

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lessen

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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