verb pac·i·fy \ ˈpa-sə-ˌfī \
Updated on: 25 Apr 2018

Definition of pacify

pacified; pacifying
1 a : to allay the anger or agitation of : soothe
  • pacify a crying child
b : appease, propitiate
  • tried to pacify the enemy with compromises
2 a : 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


play \ˌpa-sə-ˈfī-ə-bəl\ adjective

pacify was our Word of the Day on 05/11/2012. Hear the podcast!

Examples of pacify in a Sentence

  1. She resigned from her position to pacify her accusers.

  2. Their efforts to pacify the nation by force failed.

  3. trying to pacify a mob of protesters

Recent Examples of pacify from the Web

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.

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."

Origin and Etymology of pacify

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

PACIFY Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of pacify for English Language Learners

  • : 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

PACIFY Defined for Kids


verb pac·i·fy \ ˈpa-sə-ˌfī \

Definition of pacify for Students

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

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to fill with foolish love or admiration

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