pac·​i·​fy | \ ˈpa-sə-ˌfī How to pronounce pacify (audio) \
pacified; pacifying

Definition of pacify

transitive verb

1a : to allay the anger or agitation of : soothe pacify a crying child
b : appease, propitiate tried to pacify the enemy with compromises
2a : to restore to a tranquil state : settle made an attempt to pacify the commotion
b : to reduce to a submissive state : subdue forces moved in to pacify the country

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Other Words from pacify

pacifiable \ ˌpa-​sə-​ˈfī-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce pacify (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for pacify

pacify, appease, placate, mollify, propitiate, conciliate mean to ease the anger or disturbance of. pacify suggests a soothing or calming. pacified by a sincere apology appease implies quieting insistent demands by making concessions. appease their territorial ambitions placate suggests changing resentment or bitterness to goodwill. a move to placate local opposition mollify implies soothing hurt feelings or rising anger. a speech that mollified the demonstrators propitiate implies averting anger or malevolence especially of a superior being. propitiated his parents by dressing up conciliate suggests ending an estrangement by persuasion, concession, or settling of differences. conciliating the belligerent nations

Did You Know?

A parent who wants to win a little peace and quiet might give a fussy baby a pacifier. An employer seeking to avoid worker discontent might pay employees well. These actions may seem unrelated, but, etymologically speaking, they have a lot in common. Both "pacifier" and "pay" are ultimately derived from "pax," the Latin word for "peace." As you may have guessed, "pax" is also the source of our word peace. "Pacify" comes to us through Middle English "pacifien," from the Latin verb pacificare, which derives from "pax."

Examples of pacify in a Sentence

She resigned from her position to pacify her accusers. Their efforts to pacify the nation by force failed. trying to pacify a mob of protesters
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Recent Examples on the Web Hinton chronicles how law enforcement efforts to pacify U.S. cities in the last half-century wound up spawning more unrest. Monitor Reviewers, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 June 2021 The choice evidently was meant to pacify progressives demanding that the administration undo President Trump’s protections for religious freedom and conscience rights, as well as his move to partially defund Planned Parenthood. Alexandra Desanctis, National Review, 30 Apr. 2021 So in 1926, Mayer enlisted folks from across the industry to create the academy, designed to pacify labor issues outside of a union system, as well as to promote a positive view of Hollywood to the public. Sonia Rao, Washington Post, 16 Apr. 2021 As the mobilizations of the Women’s Army escalate, the panicked government tries to pacify them with a Wages for Housework policy; too little, too late. Yasmina Price, Vulture, 3 Feb. 2021 To pacify the monster, Cassiopeia's daughter, Princess Andromeda, was left tied to a rock by the sea. Todd Nelson, Star Tribune, 1 Feb. 2021 Observe them assuming their roles, from those who agitate to those who pacify. Kevyn Burger Special To The Star Tribune, Star Tribune, 22 Jan. 2021 Parents of kids who act out may turn to electronic devices to pacify their children’s outbursts. Paul L. Morgan, The Conversation, 12 Jan. 2021 Constant efforts to pacify the South by feeding its appetite for Black bodies—from the violent license of the Fugitive Slave Act to the dehumanizing logic of the Dred Scott ruling—failed to quell the white South’s perpetual sense of endangerment. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, The New Republic, 21 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pacify.' 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 pacify

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for pacify

Middle English pacifien, from Anglo-French pacifier, from Latin pacificare, from pac-, pax peace

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Time Traveler for pacify

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The first known use of pacify was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

13 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pacify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for pacify



English Language Learners Definition of pacify

: to cause (someone who is angry or upset) to become calm or quiet
: to cause or force (a country, a violent group of people, etc.) to become peaceful


pac·​i·​fy | \ ˈpa-sə-ˌfī How to pronounce pacify (audio) \
pacified; pacifying

Kids Definition of pacify

: to make peaceful or quiet : calm, soothe The babysitter tried to pacify the crying baby.


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