re·​ha·​bil·​i·​tate | \ ˌrē-ə-ˈbi-lə-ˌtāt, ˌrē-hə- \
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

rehabilitation \ ˌrē-​ə-​ˌbi-​lə-​ˈtā-​shən , ˌrē-​hə-​ \ noun
rehabilitative \ ˌrē-​ə-​ˈbi-​lə-​ˌtā-​tiv , ˌrē-​hə-​ \ adjective
rehabilitator \ ˌrē-​ə-​ˈbi-​lə-​ˌtā-​tər , ˌrē-​hə-​ \ noun

Synonyms for rehabilitate


habilitate, reclaim, redeem, reform, regenerate

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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

This included not only financial reports, but also reports on the number of houses built, rehabilitated, repaired and recycled by 795 Habitat affiliates. Jason Coupet And, WSJ, "When It Comes to Evaluating Nonprofits, It Isn’t All About the Overhead," 16 Dec. 2018 Dusty, a 22-year-old Percheron-quarter cross, was put to rest due to leg issues that couldn't be rehabilitated, the unit announced. Holly V. Hays, Indianapolis Star, "IMPD Mounted Unit mourns loss of second horse in a month," 5 July 2018 Urrutia and Leyva are no longer in the Orioles system, Alvarez is rehabilitating from Tommy John elbow reconstruction and Miranda was traded to the Seattle Mariners for left-hander Wade Miley in 2016. Eduardo A. Encina,, "As new signing period approaches, will Orioles invest more in international market?," 1 July 2018 In February, Emory University offered Buk, now long-rehabilitated from his chilling childhood, according to former colleagues, a spot in its master’s program in international development. Will Feuer,, "He was a child soldier. Now he's hoping to earn a Master's from Emory, and some Haddonfield students are here to help," 24 June 2018 After the turtles were found, they were rehabilitated and released back into some water by the trail, according to the report. The Web Staff,, "Turtles found chained together and with holes in their shells on Shingle Creek Trail: report," 14 June 2018 Of the aquarium’s 12,400 animals, 23 have been rescued and rehabilitated, but are unable to return to the wild. Alex Stuckey, San Antonio Express-News, "Texas State Aquarium doubles down on wildlife rescue, rehabilitation after Harvey," 3 June 2018 Justice is being cared for by Sound Equine Options, an Oregon nonprofit that rescues and rehabilitates horses, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Crystal Hill, miamiherald, "Horse wants $100,000 from its former owner for ‘extreme pain’ and neglect, Oregon lawsuit says | Miami Herald," 3 May 2018 In December, the land bank began prohibiting Bridges from selling houses to third parties until the houses had been rehabilitated. Jennifer Dixon, Detroit Free Press, "Evictions, flipping tarnish effort to turn squatters into homeowners," 26 Apr. 2018

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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Statistics for rehabilitate

Last Updated

15 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rehabilitate

The first known use of rehabilitate was circa 1581

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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


transitive verb
re·​ha·​bil·​i·​tate | \ ˌrē-(h)ə-ˈbil-ə-ˌtāt \
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- \
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 \ noun

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