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

Synonyms for rehabilitate


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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 The airport has received a $3.5 million FAA grant to rehabilitate the runway, work that will employ more than 60 local contractors. Carrie Napoleon,, 15 Sep. 2021 At various times in the eight years since Bank of America vacated the premises, the politicians and developers seeking public money to rehabilitate the building have spent too much time trying to capitalize on nostalgia that doesn’t really exist., 24 Aug. 2021 In the meantime, the park service is working with Aramark, a concessionaire of the National Park Service that operates boat rentals and tours, to rehabilitate the Stateline Auxiliary Ramp. Sophia Eppolito, The Arizona Republic, 7 Aug. 2021 In addition, the city is expecting to spend $8 million to rehabilitate the former Gayfers building on Dauphin Street in downtown Mobile. al, 4 Aug. 2021 Kentucky Dam State Park Airport in Gilbertsville — $166,666 to rehabilitate a runway. Ben Tobin, The Courier-Journal, 1 Sep. 2020 Furthermore, city governments' urban planning departments could incentivize developers to rehabilitate and use space in the community that would increase home values, like allowing developers to create gardens out of nearby empty lots, Harden says. Tatiana Walk-morris,, 9 Sep. 2021 Incarceration is meant to punish criminals and protect society from them, but it's also meant to rehabilitate them. Joshua Berlinger, CNN, 6 Sep. 2021 In other words, the producers set out to rehabilitate her image. Scott D. Pierce, The Salt Lake Tribune, 5 Sep. 2021

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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Last Updated

14 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rehabilitate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for rehabilitate



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 : restore


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 rehabilitate (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on rehabilitate

Nglish: Translation of rehabilitate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rehabilitate for Arabic Speakers


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