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 The funds will be used to improve existing infrastructure, upgrade park amenities, maintain and rehabilitate the city’s buildings, acquire or build new facilities and improve technology across departments. Paulina Pineda, azcentral, "Tempe expects to ask voters to OK $349 million bond request in November," 15 May 2020 More than 60 Chihuahuas in the Bakersfield, California area have been rescued and rehabilitated — just in time for International Chihuahua Appreciation Day on May 14. Ally Mauch,, "Over 60 Chihuahuas Rescued in Time to Find Homes For International Chihuahua Appreciation Day," 14 May 2020 The closure is necessary so that the RTA can rehabilitate a section of track stretching from the Buckeye-Woodhill Station near East 93rd Street to near East 55th Street. Peter Krouse, cleveland, "Plans proceed for temporary Rapid closure east of Tower City beginning June 28," 12 May 2020 The state’s largest airport, Portland International Jetport, will get more than $2.2 million to construct and rehabilitate the taxiway. USA TODAY, "Packed beaches, Tupac files for unemployment, no Mother’s Day flowers: News from around our 50 states," 29 Apr. 2020 A year after undergoing elbow ligament reconstruction surgery, Michael Fulmer is still there rehabilitating. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "How Detroit Tigers survive pandemic: Hitting off a tee in Atlanta, playing 'Frozen' in Detroit," 23 Apr. 2020 Senator Elizabeth Warren has released a bill that would invest $500 billion over the next 10 years to build, preserve and rehabilitate more than 3 million affordable housing units across the country. CNN, "Julián Castro: Here's how we can prevent the next housing crisis," 16 Apr. 2020 Now the ruling Communist Party, facing a storm of anger from the Chinese public over its missteps, is trying to rehabilitate its image by rebranding itself as the unequivocal leader in the global fight against the virus. Javier C. Hernández, New York Times, "China Spins Coronavirus Crisis, Hailing Itself as a Global Leader," 10 Mar. 2020 Chances are there’s not much Jon Daniels can do to rehabilitate his image with a plurality of Ranger Nation voters. Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, "For the Rangers and Jon Daniels, Nolan Arenado is worth the asking price," 22 Jan. 2020

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

20 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Rehabilitate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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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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