pac·​i·​fy | \ˈpa-sə-ˌfī \
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 \ 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

Ramzan Kadyrov, a Chechen warlord who has pacified the restive Muslim region on Moscow’s orders at the cost of hundreds of alleged extrajudicial killings, got to parade Egypt’s soccer star Mohamad Salah in the stadium of regional capital Grozny. Anatoly Kurmanaev, WSJ, "World Cup Gives Putin’s Policies a Global Stage," 13 June 2018 In other words, the deal in Berlin may not pacify the CSU and risks unleashing precisely the domino effect of unilateral actions that Mrs Merkel most feared. The Economist, "Angela Merkel’s flawed deal on migrants," 5 July 2018 Eileen spends her evenings pacifying her alcoholic father with bottles of booze, and her days laboring as a secretary at a correctional facility for boys. New York Times, "A Woman Sleeps a Year Away in Ottessa Moshfegh’s Darkly Comic New Novel," 6 July 2018 Whatever hopes that other leaders had of pacifying Mr. Trump and papering over their widening differences on trade, security and the world order vanished in a flurry of harsh recriminations. New York Times, "Trump’s Blasts Upend G-7, Alienating Oldest Allies," 9 June 2018 Unwilling to pacify investors by inflicting austerity on voters, President Richard Nixon uncoupled the dollar from gold, ending the Bretton Woods agreement. Caleb Crain, The New Yorker, "Is Capitalism a Threat to Democracy?," 7 May 2018 Sci-fi authors love to imagine ever more violent entertainments being used to pacify the masses. Tom Shippey, WSJ, "Science Fiction: Necessary Roughness," 27 Apr. 2018 The big question is whether $11 billion -- and not targeting the omnibus -- will pacify conservative groups who have been calling for, at a minimum, $30 billion in cuts. Phil Mattingly And Daniella Diaz, CNN, "White House to ask Congress to cut spending by $11 billion," 3 May 2018 But the league came out with Wednesday’s goofy, hard and fast edict designed to satisfy, or pacify, all involved with a line down the middle. Mike Anthony,, "Mike Anthony: NFL's Approach To Anthem Protests Is Simple, Illogical," 27 May 2018

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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Last Updated

9 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for pacify

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

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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 \
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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More from Merriam-Webster on pacify

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pacify

Spanish Central: Translation of pacify

Nglish: Translation of pacify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pacify for Arabic Speakers

Comments on pacify

What made you want to look up pacify? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


obstinately defiant of authority

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