pro·​pi·​ti·​ate | \ prō-ˈpi-shē-ˌāt How to pronounce propitiate (audio) \
propitiated; propitiating

Definition of propitiate

transitive verb

: to gain or regain the favor or goodwill of : appease

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Other Words from propitiate

propitiator \ prō-​ˈpi-​shē-​ˌā-​tər How to pronounce propitiate (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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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."

Examples of propitiate in a Sentence

He made an offering to propitiate the angry gods. 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 on the Web Sarah Burton’s poetic debut collection for Alexander McQueen for spring 2011 took inspiration from the corn-husk dollies that in ancient Britain were traditionally used to propitiate the agricultural field gods. Alex Harrington, Vogue, 28 Oct. 2020 Norman’s description of a crisis over which deity to propitiate, a crisis that began with the thirteenth and continues to the present day, is impressive in its clarity. Donald S. Lopez, New York Times, 25 Feb. 2020 These ghosts have been stalking the premises since the Great Famine, when a local man committed a sickening murder in an attempt to propitiate the ancient gods. Sam Sacks, WSJ, 18 May 2018 Soon after Kuchibhotla’s murder, a commentator in India a grave irony: in the run-up to the 2016 election, a number of right-leaning American Hindus , not only with donations but also with elaborate prayer ceremonies to propitiate the gods. Adam Davidson, The New Yorker, 15 Mar. 2017 In interviews, the inhabitants complained that rocks being blasted off the mountains were falling on their homes and angering the local neak ta, who had to be propitiated with offerings of roast pigs. Julia Wallace, New York Times, 13 Feb. 2017

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.

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First Known Use of propitiate

1583, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for propitiate

Latin propitiatus, past participle of propitiare, from propitius propitious

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Time Traveler for propitiate

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The first known use of propitiate was in 1583

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Cite this Entry

“Propitiate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for propitiate



English Language Learners Definition of propitiate

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

More from Merriam-Webster on propitiate

Nglish: Translation of propitiate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of propitiate for Arabic Speakers


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