Synonym Chooser

How is the word debilitate distinct from other similar verbs?

Some common synonyms of debilitate are cripple, disable, enfeeble, sap, undermine, and weaken. While all these words mean "to lose or cause to lose strength or vigor," debilitate suggests a less marked or more temporary impairment of strength or vitality.

the debilitating effects of surgery

When is cripple a more appropriate choice than debilitate?

The words cripple and debilitate can be used in similar contexts, but cripple implies causing a serious loss of functioning power through damaging or removing an essential part or element.

crippled by arthritis

Where would disable be a reasonable alternative to debilitate?

While in some cases nearly identical to debilitate, disable suggests bringing about impairment or limitation in a physical or mental ability.

disabled by an injury sustained at work

When would enfeeble be a good substitute for debilitate?

Although the words enfeeble and debilitate have much in common, enfeeble implies a condition of marked weakness and helplessness.

enfeebled by starvation

How are the words undermine and sap related as synonyms of debilitate?

Both undermine and sap suggest a weakening by something working surreptitiously and insidiously.

a poor diet undermines your health
drugs had sapped his ability to think

When is it sensible to use weaken instead of debilitate?

While the synonyms weaken and debilitate are close in meaning, weaken may imply loss of physical strength, health, soundness, or stability or of quality, intensity, or effective power.

a disease that weakens the body's defenses

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Cite this Entry

“Debilitate.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/debilitate. Accessed 14 Jul. 2024.

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