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


cure, fix, heal, mend, rehab, set up

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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

But Sorrentino had slowly begun to turn the page in his life and used his appearance on the revival to rehabilitate his public image., "The Situation Was The Big Winner Of Jersey Shore: Family Vacation," 29 June 2018 Also, Uber, in one of its many bids to rehabilitate its public image, is rolling out a pilot program that will offer drivers incentives to switch to EVs. David Roberts, Vox, "Trump might like dirty cars, but electric vehicles are coming anyway," 26 June 2018 The news comes as Facebook is attempting to rehabilitate its public image. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Facebook let select companies have “special access” to user data, per report," 8 June 2018 Salter is one of many people in the film who have been paying visits to McCain as the senator rehabilitates at his home near Sedona, Arizona. Steven Zeitchik, The Seattle Times, "Book and documentary serve as ‘living eulogy’ to John McCain," 28 May 2018 This offseason, as Brown rehabilitated from shoulder surgery, Lynch’s praise was measured. Eric Branch, San Francisco Chronicle, "49ers lay it on the line with tough tackles Joe Staley, Mike McClinchey," 5 May 2018 Marsh, a second-round pick who signed for $1.073 million in 2016, spent his first year in the organization rehabilitating from a stress reaction in his lower back. Mike Digiovanna,, "Jordon Adell heads list of Angels' top prospects," 24 Mar. 2018 That led the team and the player to rehabilitate that injury rather than have a full surgical repair. Armando Salguero, miamiherald, "Miami Dolphins believe Ryan Tannehill as durable as before injuries," 22 May 2018 But more importantly, the space where the staff will conduct those exams in and work to rehabilitate animals is brand new. Michael Walsh, Courant Community, "Roaring Brook Nature Center Completes Renovation, Expansion," 9 May 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

5 Nov 2018

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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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