re·​ha·​bil·​i·​tate | \ ˌrē-ə-ˈbi-lə-ˌtāt How to pronounce rehabilitate (audio) , ˌrē-hə- How to pronounce rehabilitate (audio) \
rehabilitated; rehabilitating

Definition of rehabilitate

transitive verb

1a : to restore to a former capacity : reinstate
b : to restore to good repute : reestablish the good name of
2a : to restore to a former state (as of efficiency, good management, or solvency) rehabilitate slum areas
b : to restore or bring to a condition of health or useful and constructive activity

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Other Words from rehabilitate

rehabilitative \ ˌrē-​ə-​ˈbi-​lə-​ˌtā-​tiv How to pronounce rehabilitative (audio) , ˌrē-​hə-​ How to pronounce rehabilitative (audio) \ adjective
rehabilitator \ ˌrē-​ə-​ˈbi-​lə-​ˌtā-​tər How to pronounce rehabilitator (audio) , ˌrē-​hə-​ How to pronounce rehabilitator (audio) \ noun

Examples of rehabilitate in a Sentence

The clinic rehabilitates drug addicts. He's still rehabilitating the knee he injured last summer. They try to rehabilitate horses that have suffered injuries. The program is intended to rehabilitate criminals. The country has rehabilitated its image since the war. The city plans to rehabilitate its slum areas.
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Recent Examples on the Web After serving his sentence, Mr. Epstein worked to rehabilitate his public image and continued to surround himself with luminaries of politics, academia and finance. Miriam Gottfried, WSJ, "Apollo Board Panel to Review Leon Black’s Ties With Jeffrey Epstein," 21 Oct. 2020 Beyond Lebanon, the project is generating interest in Venezuela to help rehabilitate former drug cartel members, Mr. Thompson said. Ben Barkawi, The Christian Science Monitor, "Community oven fights poverty, division in Beirut, with hot meals," 20 Oct. 2020 If Biden is elected on November 3rd, one of his pressing tasks will be to take steps to rehabilitate the partisan divisions that imperil American democracy. Michael Luo, The New Yorker, "Could Joe Biden Actually Bring America Back Together?," 17 Oct. 2020 Unlike state prisons, jails don't offer the same level of drug treatment and classes to help rehabilitate inmates and prepare them to re-enter society. Andy Mannix, Star Tribune, "Amid pandemic, Minnesota prisoners remain warehoused in county jails to make space for distancing," 11 Oct. 2020 Bolsonaro also had time to rehabilitate his political image. Christian Paz, The Atlantic, "What Bolsonaro’s COVID-19 Case Tells Us About Trump’s," 3 Oct. 2020 The kingdom’s efforts to rehabilitate its image have included promoting domestic social reforms and opening Saudi Arabia more widely to outsiders, including by granting tourist visas. Washington Post, "Khashoggi supporters launch group to advocate for democratic rights in the Arab world," 29 Sep. 2020 In 1991, acoustics were part of a two-year $10 million project to rehabilitate Davies Hall. Bill Van Niekerken,, "Davies Symphony Hall debuted with fanfare 40 years ago — but the sound wasn’t a hit," 29 Sep. 2020 The program provides up to $600 million in grant funding to allow public entities to buy and rehabilitate housing, including hotels, motels and vacant apartment buildings, and covert them to interim or permanent, long-term housing. San Diego Union-Tribune, "La Mesa, blindsided by county’s plan to use Holiday Inn to house homeless, to speak out today," 22 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rehabilitate.' 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 rehabilitate

circa 1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for rehabilitate

Medieval Latin rehabilitatus, past participle of rehabilitare, from Latin re- + Late Latin habilitare to habilitate

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Time Traveler for rehabilitate

Time Traveler

The first known use of rehabilitate was circa 1581

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Statistics for rehabilitate

Last Updated

25 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Rehabilitate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for rehabilitate


How to pronounce rehabilitate (audio) How to pronounce rehabilitate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of rehabilitate

: to bring (someone or something) back to a normal, healthy condition after an illness, injury, drug problem, etc.
: to teach (a criminal in prison) to live a normal and productive life
: to bring (someone or something) back to a good condition


transitive verb
re·​ha·​bil·​i·​tate | \ ˌrē-(h)ə-ˈbil-ə-ˌtāt How to pronounce rehabilitate (audio) \
rehabilitated; rehabilitating

Medical Definition of rehabilitate

: to restore or bring to a condition of health or useful and constructive activity rehabilitate patients with hip fractures


transitive verb
re·​ha·​bil·​i·​tate | \ ˌrē-ə-ˈbi-lə-ˌtāt, ˌrē-hə- How to pronounce rehabilitate (audio) \
rehabilitated; rehabilitating

Legal Definition of rehabilitate

1 : to restore to a former capacity specifically : to restore credibility to (a witness or testimony) the State simply brought out all of the prior statements to qualify or explain the inconsistency and to rehabilitate the witness People v. Page, 550 N.E.2d 248 (1990) — compare impeach

Note: A witness whose trial testimony is inconsistent with his or her pretrial usually sworn statements is considered impeached. Such a witness may be rehabilitated usually on redirect examination. There are various state and federal evidentiary rules governing what evidence (as character evidence) is admissible to rehabilitate a witness.

2a : to restore to a former state (as of good repair or solvency) if the debtor wishes to liquidate rather than reorganize or rehabilitate the farming operation— J. H. Williamson
b : to restore (as a convicted criminal defendant) to a useful and constructive place in society through therapy, job training, and other counseling

Other Words from rehabilitate

rehabilitation \ -​ˌbi-​lə-​ˈtā-​shən How to pronounce rehabilitation (audio) \ noun

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