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 Filled with algae extracts, retinol, natural sources of vitamin A, brown seaweed, evening primrose oil, and fermented green tea, this oil will lessen the appearance of wrinkles and protect the skin’s barrier from harsh environmental stressors. Kari Molvar, Vogue, "15 of the Best Retinol Serums and Creams That Will Transform Your Skin," 14 Oct. 2020 Psychological interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy can help lessen the distress, but to date, no drug or medical device has been shown to reliably improve this condition. Diana Kwon, Scientific American, "New Tinnitus Treatment Alleviates Annoying Ringing in the Ears," 7 Oct. 2020 Fortunately, the same precautions that help lessen the spread of COVID-19 can also block the flu: wearing masks, washing hands, avoiding touching your face and mouth, socially distancing. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "With the coronavirus pandemic raging, experts say: Get a flu shot," 6 Oct. 2020 Carlson also could lessen the risks of a drug bust. Beth Warren, The Courier-Journal, "Rogue pilots trafficked a billion dollars in cartel drugs across US while no one watched," 2 Oct. 2020 More time spent playing outdoors and exercising could lessen the threats associated with weight gain as well as digital eye strain. Hallie Miller, baltimoresun.com, "Maryland eye doctors see more complaints about eye pain from kids due to virtual learning," 2 Oct. 2020 China could also lessen its dependence on Taiwan by getting better at making chips itself. Raymond Zhong, New York Times, "In U.S.-China Tech Feud, Taiwan Feels Heat From Both Sides," 1 Oct. 2020 Sports arenas are being transformed into enormous precincts to help lessen the risks of casting a ballot during the coronavirus pandemic. Paul Newberry, Star Tribune, "Column: Beyond kneeling, T-shirts, sports push major changes," 7 Aug. 2020 There is some good data that shows zinc can lessen the severity of the common cold if taken as soon as a person notices cold-like symptoms. Claire Maldarelli, Popular Science, "These are the best COVID-19 treatments right now," 5 Oct. 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

28 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Lessen.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lessen. Accessed 30 Oct. 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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