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

transitive verb

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

Did you know?

Propitiate tends to suggest averting the anger or malevolence of a superior being. You might "appease" your hunger, but to speak more colorfully, you could "propitiate the gods of hunger." The word is related to propitious, an adjective meaning "likely to have or produce good results" or "being a good omen."

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

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 Since 1979, the United States has sought to contain or propitiate the regime in Tehran. Danielle Pletka, National Review, 6 Nov. 2023 Both the sirens and Proteus know much, if not all, that has happened upon the face of the earth, but whereas the sirens sing their song unbidden while taking the hearer’s life in return, Proteus under compulsion tells the hearer the proper animal sacrifice to offer to propitiate the gods. Marina Warner, The New York Review of Books, 27 May 2021 These mace heads, more commonly made from antler, are often dredged from rivers; they were probably placed there to propitiate the water spirits. Dominic Green, WSJ, 27 Apr. 2022 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 examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'propitiate.' 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 propitiatus, past participle of propitiare, from propitius propitious

First Known Use

1583, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of propitiate was in 1583


Dictionary Entries Near propitiate

Cite this Entry

“Propitiate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


pro·​pi·​ti·​ate prō-ˈpish-ē-ˌāt How to pronounce propitiate (audio)
propitiated; propitiating
: to gain or regain the favor or goodwill of

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