mitigate

verb

mit·​i·​gate ˈmi-tə-ˌgāt How to pronounce mitigate (audio)
mitigated; mitigating

transitive verb

1
: to cause to become less harsh or hostile : mollify
aggressiveness may be mitigated or … channeled Ashley Montagu
2
a
: to make less severe or painful : alleviate
mitigate a patient's suffering
b
: extenuate
attempted to mitigate the offense
mitigative adjective
mitigator noun
mitigatory adjective
Mitigate vs. Militate: Usage Guide

Mitigate is sometimes used as an intransitive (followed by against) where militate might be expected. Even though Faulkner used it

some intangible and invisible social force that mitigates against him William Faulkner

and one critic thinks it should be called an American idiom, it is usually considered a mistake.

Did you know?

The meaning of mitigate is straightforward enough: it is most often used to talk about making something, such as a problem, symptom, or punishment, less harsh or severe. Sometimes, however, it appears where the similar-looking militate is expected. That word, which is often followed by against, means "to have weight or effect," as in "your unexcused absences might militate against your getting a promotion." The two words are not closely related etymologically (mitigate descends from the Latin verb mitigare, meaning "to soften," whereas militate traces to militare, another Latin verb that means "to engage in warfare"), but the confusion between the two has existed for long enough that some usage commentators have accepted "mitigate against" as an idiomatic alternative to militate. If you want to avoid criticism, you should keep mitigate and militate distinct.

Did you know?

mitigate or militate?

Would it be correct to say, "His boyish appearance mitigated against his getting an early promotion"? Most usage commentators would say "no." They feel such examples demonstrate a long-standing confusion between mitigate and the look-alike militate. Those two words are not closely related etymologically (mitigate descends from the Latin verb mitigare, meaning "to soften," whereas militate traces to militare, another Latin verb that means "to engage in warfare"), nor are they particularly close in meaning (militate means "to have weight or effect"). The confusion between the two has existed for long enough that one commentator thinks "mitigate against" should be accepted as an idiomatic alternative to militate, but if you want to avoid criticism, you should keep mitigate and militate distinct.

Choose the Right Synonym for mitigate

relieve, alleviate, lighten, assuage, mitigate, allay mean to make something less grievous.

relieve implies a lifting of enough of a burden to make it tolerable.

took an aspirin to relieve the pain

alleviate implies temporary or partial lessening of pain or distress.

the lotion alleviated the itching

lighten implies reducing a burdensome or depressing weight.

good news would lighten our worries

assuage implies softening or sweetening what is harsh or disagreeable.

ocean breezes assuaged the intense heat

mitigate suggests a moderating or countering of the effect of something violent or painful.

the need to mitigate barbaric laws

allay implies an effective calming or soothing of fears or alarms.

allayed their fears

Example Sentences

At the far end of the room is a sliding glass door, taped with an X to mitigate shattering. The framing is flimsy, and rattles from mortar rounds even a half mile away. William Langewiesche, Atlantic, May 2005 … a genre novel whose inevitable cinematic ending doesn't mitigate the visceral and emotional power of what has come before. It lingers in the memory like a very bad dream. Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books, 14 Aug. 2003 For 65 holes Norman dominated the classic rolling fairways and small, subtle greens of Olympic … with driving and iron play so solid that it mitigated mediocre putting. Jaime Diaz, Sports Illustrated, 8 Nov. 1993 Emergency funds are being provided to help mitigate the effects of the disaster. medicines used to mitigate a patient's suffering
Recent Examples on the Web In March, Sinema and Kelly secured funding that includes $150 million for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program that helps NGOs and communities mitigate the costs related to an influx of migrants, including food, shelter and transportation. The Arizona Republic, 29 Nov. 2022 European officials are scrambling to help Ukraine stay warm and keep functioning through the bitter winter months, pledging Friday to send more support that will mitigate the Russian military's efforts to turn off the heat and lights. Arkansas Online, 26 Nov. 2022 High milk prices helped mitigate the overall decline in farm revenues, Sumner said. Ian Jamesstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 23 Nov. 2022 Banks and broker-dealers have operational capabilities, regulatory obligations and bankruptcy rules that mitigate these risks. Hal Scott And John Gulliver, WSJ, 14 Nov. 2022 Block party is basically a tool to help people mitigate online harassment, at this point on Twitter, but looking at moving to other platforms as well. Time, 13 Nov. 2022 Fortune favors the businesses that can mitigate such risks but accept that supply chain volatility can’t be eliminated. Avy Punwasee, Forbes, 10 Nov. 2022 BBC - Increasing worker productivity could help companies mitigate the effects of inflation. Fortune, 3 Nov. 2022 The suit says the new policy also violates state environmental law because the policy shifts how the city will mitigate the environmental impacts of projects. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mitigate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, from Latin mitigatus, past participle of mitigare to soften, from mitis soft + -igare (akin to Latin agere to drive); akin to Old Irish moíth soft — more at agent

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of mitigate was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near mitigate

Cite this Entry

“Mitigate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mitigate. Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

mitigate

verb
mit·​i·​gate ˈmit-ə-ˌgāt How to pronounce mitigate (audio)
mitigated; mitigating
: to make less severe
mitigate a punishment
mitigation noun

Medical Definition

mitigate

transitive verb
mit·​i·​gate ˈmit-ə-ˌgāt How to pronounce mitigate (audio)
mitigated; mitigating
: to make less severe or painful

Legal Definition

mitigate

verb
mit·​i·​gate ˈmi-tə-ˌgāt How to pronounce mitigate (audio)
mitigated; mitigating

transitive verb

: to lessen or minimize the severity of
what actions the State took to mitigate the hazardous conditions Estate of Arrowwood v. State, 894 P.2d 642 (1995)
factors that mitigate the crime
see also mitigation of damages sense 1 compare aggravate

intransitive verb

: to lessen or minimize the severity of one's losses or damage
a failure to mitigate
mitigation noun
mitigative adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on mitigate

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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