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 Schwartz’s knowledge and connections helped capitalize a project to rehabilitate 14 units into permanent housing for homeless people. Los Angeles Times, "Ruth Schwartz, pioneer of homeless services in L.A., dies," 31 Mar. 2021 Biden is proposing taxpayers invest $2 trillion on comprehensive infrastructure and climate modernization, rebuilding transportation hubs and corridors, upgrading power grids, and projects to rehabilitate the environment. David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, "Republicans swiftly dismiss Biden infrastructure proposal in bid to avoid repeat of COVID relief defeat," 31 Mar. 2021 Dealerships moved quickly to stave off online competitors and rehabilitate their poor customer service rap. Morgan Korn, ABC News, "More consumers are shopping online for cars. Can dealerships keep up?," 28 Mar. 2021 The sheriff’s departments have a duty to provide care and to rehabilitate those individuals who walk through their doors. Jason Pohl, ProPublica, "California Sent $8 Billion to Counties to Improve Jails and Services But Failed to Track the Money, Says Auditor," 26 Mar. 2021 While the shelter is still closed to the public, Sydney continues to volunteer there and take in and rehabilitate strays. Ann Zaniewski, Detroit Free Press, "She adopted a kitten, wrote an essay and won $50K for a Ferndale shelter," 5 Jan. 2021 Some athletes that were injured now have the time to rehabilitate and some who were healthy and ready to go could get injured. Christine Burroni, Travel + Leisure, "Lindsey Vonn and Her Dog Lucy's New Competition Show Takes Pets and Their Owners on an Action-packed Journey Around the World," 20 Nov. 2020 Up until that point in his career, Johnson’s injuries had mostly been bad timing, rather than the kind of surgical repairs that take the better part of a year to rehabilitate. Joel A. Erickson, The Indianapolis Star, "Setbacks and pain: Marcus Johnson's long journey to making an impact with Colts," 29 Oct. 2020 But many, especially in Britain, believe that The Crown in many ways helped somewhat rehabilitate his image. Natalie Morin,, "Both Of The Crown‘s Prince Philips React To The Death Of The Duke Of Edinburgh," 9 Apr. 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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Statistics for rehabilitate

Last Updated

29 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rehabilitate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 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


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

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