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 Parents of kids who act out may turn to electronic devices to pacify their children’s outbursts. Paul L. Morgan, The Conversation, "Some kindergartners are more likely to be heavy users of online tech later, according to new research," 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, "The Unacceptable Costs of Appeasing MAGA Nation," 21 Dec. 2020 Nigeria’s police leadership has disbanded the rogue SARS unit in a bid to pacify protesters. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "These photos show how young Nigerians organized for one of the country’s biggest protests," 16 Oct. 2020 Mineral ingredients detox and pacify inflamed skin, while calming scents tend to the mind. The Editors, Marie Claire, "52 New Beauty Products That Will Change Your Life," 29 Sep. 2020 Jennifer Hitchcock, a high school teacher in Virginia, once assigned an account by a Filipino soldier battling U.S. occupation during the Spanish-American War, describing what Filipinos endured as American forces attempted to pacify the island. Author: Moriah Balingit, Laura Meckler, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump alleges ‘left-wing indoctrination’ in schools, says he will create commission to push more ‘pro-American’ history," 18 Sep. 2020 At the same time, having been slammed once for what many considered a hasty decision to cancel, why would the league rush into another move simply to pacify its detractors? Nathan Baird, cleveland, "As Ohio State awaits Big Ten progress, is bureaucracy the real enemy? College football Monday Madness," 7 Sep. 2020 During our first quarantine week, my wife and I tried many frivolous shows to pacify us. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "Escaping Coronavirus Lockdown Through a Stranger’s Solitary Walks on YouTube," 9 Apr. 2020 Virtual try-ons, however, may not be enough to pacify shoppers in the long haul, said First Insight's Petro. Parija Kavilanz, CNN, "No testers, no problem: Ulta and Sephora have a new take on 'try before you buy'," 18 June 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

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pacify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for pacify


How to pronounce pacify (audio)

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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Comments on pacify

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