pla·​cate ˈplā-ˌkāt How to pronounce placate (audio) ˈpla- How to pronounce placate (audio)
placated; placating

transitive verb

: to soothe or mollify especially by concessions : appease
placater noun
placatingly adverb
placation noun
placative adjective
placatory adjective

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Soothe Yourself With the History of Placate

The earliest documented uses of the verb placate in English date from the late 17th century. The word is derived from Latin placatus, the past participle of placare, and placate still carries the basic meaning of its Latin ancestor: "to soothe" or "to appease." Other placare descendants in English are implacable (meaning "not easily soothed or satisfied") and placation ("the act of soothing or appeasing"). Even please itself, derived from Latin placēre ("to please"), is a distant relative of placate.

Choose the Right Synonym for placate

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

Examples of placate in a Sentence

Although Rumsfeld was later thrown overboard by the Administration in an attempt to placate critics of the Iraq War, his military revolution was here to stay. Jeremy Scahill, Nation, 2 Apr. 2007
The first step that women took in their emancipation was to adopt traditional male roles: to insist on their right to wear trousers, not to placate, not to smile, not to be decorative. Fay Weldon, Harper's, May 1998
These spirits inhabited natural objects, like rivers and mountains, including celestial bodies, like the sun and moon. They had to be placated and their favors sought in order to ensure the fertility of the soil and the rotation of the seasons. Stephen W. Hawking, A Brief History of Time, 1988
But it seems important to the Thunderbirds to make a big deal out of this; evidently it placates congressmen who don't think the Air Force should be in show biz. Frank Deford, Sports Illustrated, 3 Aug. 1987
The administration placated protesters by agreeing to consider their demands. The angry customer was not placated by the clerk's apology. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Rebuilding a relationship with Reyna could also help placate the sector of the fan bases that has inexplicably sided with Reyna, who was such a distraction in Qatar he was nearly sent home. Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times, 19 Sep. 2023 Western officials have worked for months to placate the Turkish leader, to no avail. Michael Crowley, New York Times, 5 July 2023 If Kevin McCarthy wants to keep his speakership in the short term, he's got to placate those hardliners on the right who are threatening him every single week. ABC News, 17 Sep. 2023 But, by Thursday, having failed entirely to placate his tormentors, McCarthy was reduced to throwing F-bombs at them, daring them to follow through on their threats to file a motion to oust him. Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker, 14 Sep. 2023 Absurd or not, some inside were placated, in part, because senators were reminded that AI isn’t just our future, it’s been in our lives for years—from social media to Google searches to self-driving cars and video doorbells—without destroying the world. WIRED, 14 Sep. 2023 Lonely and adrift in a hostile, unfamiliar city, French model-actor Gabrielle isn’t one of those, though her overtures of kindness don’t placate his vengeful stalking, nor his deranged, increasingly threatening vlog posts. Guy Lodge, Variety, 3 Sep. 2023 But demanding them as part of a triangular diplomatic process would put Netanyahu in the uncomfortable position of rejecting normalization with Saudi Arabia in order to placate his annexationist ministers. Daniel C. Kurtzer, Foreign Affairs, 21 Aug. 2023 Is placating the base going to doom the Republican Party in the general election? ABC News, 6 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'placate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin placatus, past participle of placare — more at please

First Known Use

1678, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of placate was in 1678


Dictionary Entries Near placate

Cite this Entry

“Placate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


pla·​cate ˈplāk-ˌāt How to pronounce placate (audio) ˈplak- How to pronounce placate (audio)
placated; placating
: to calm the anger or bitterness of

More from Merriam-Webster on placate

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