verb pro·pi·ti·ate \ prō-ˈpi-shē-ˌāt \

Definition of propitiate

propitiated; propitiating
: to gain or regain the favor or goodwill of : appease


play \prō-ˈpi-shē-ˌā-tər\ noun

propitiate was our Word of the Day on 11/14/2010. Hear the podcast!

Examples of propitiate in a Sentence

  1. He made an offering to propitiate the angry gods.

  2. the temple was once the site of sacrifices—both to honor the gods in times of plenty and to propitiate them in times of trouble

Recent Examples of propitiate from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'propitiate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

Like its synonym "appease," propitiate means "to ease the anger or disturbance of," but there are subtle differences between the two terms as well. "Appease" usually implies quieting insistent demands by making concessions, whereas "propitiate" tends to suggest averting the anger or malevolence of a superior being. In fact, "propitiate" often occurs - as in our first example sentence - in contexts involving deities, spirits, or other preternatural forces. You might "appease" your hunger, but to speak more colorfully, you could "propitiate the gods of hunger."

Origin and Etymology of propitiate

Latin propitiatus, past participle of propitiare, from propitius propitious

Synonym Discussion of propitiate

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

PROPITIATE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of propitiate for English Language Learners

  • : to make (someone) pleased or less angry by giving or saying something desired

Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


a lighting electrician on a movie set

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens-painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!