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 Former Angel Garrett Richards, signed for $15.5 million to rehabilitate this season and win next season, is expected to return from Tommy John surgery next week. Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times, "Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger could clinch NL MVP honor with Christian Yelich injured," 14 Sep. 2019 In it, Bloom, who has represented accusers of Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, Jeffrey Epstein, and Donald Trump, detailed a plan to help rehabilitate Weinstein's image. Samantha Leach, Glamour, "The Most Shocking Revelations from Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey's She Said," 10 Sep. 2019 Doing so could help rehabilitate the technology industry’s reputation, which has declined in recent years amid a series of controversies. Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, "VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger: Bitcoin Is ‘Bad For Humanity’," 26 Aug. 2019 What’s perhaps even more remarkable than all of this, given the legacy of cultural shame around fanfiction that the archive was formed in part to resist, is that AO3 has helped rehabilitate how fanfiction is perceived by the mainstream. Aja Romano, Vox, "4.7 million fanfics are now Hugo winners, thanks to AO3 and the transformative culture that built it.," 19 Aug. 2019 The company has already released one commercial ankle device to help rehabilitate stroke patients and is exploring medical applications based on the hip exosuit system. Jeremy Hsu, Scientific American, "An Innovative Robotic Exosuit Boosts Both Walking and Running," 16 Aug. 2019 Now his dreams are of fighting for a UFC title and starting a halfway house to rehabilitate kids who were imprisoned. Jeff Bailey, The Denver Post, "From Colorado wrestling champ to prison inmate, UFC star Ian Heinisch looks to make most of second chance in life," 16 Aug. 2019 In one lab, Jacob Rosen, a professor of medical robotics, shows off robots that can stitch up wounds and help rehabilitate stroke victims. Teresa Watanabe,, "$100-million gift to UCLA shows growing role of private donors in public universities," 4 June 2019 The zone program gives tax incentives to people who invest in low income communities for the goal of rehabilitating those communities by creating job opportunities and economic growth. Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Ben Carson to visit San Francisco next week to address homelessness," 15 Sep. 2019

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 2019

Time Traveler for rehabilitate

The first known use of rehabilitate was circa 1581

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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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Comments on rehabilitate

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concealed or difficult to comprehend

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