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Synonym Chooser

How is the word sap distinct from other similar verbs?

Some common synonyms of sap are cripple, debilitate, disable, enfeeble, undermine, and weaken. While all these words mean "to lose or cause to lose strength or vigor," 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

In what contexts can cripple take the place of sap?

While the synonyms cripple and sap are close in meaning, cripple implies causing a serious loss of functioning power through damaging or removing an essential part or element.

crippled by arthritis

When can debilitate be used instead of sap?

The words debilitate and sap are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, debilitate suggests a less marked or more temporary impairment of strength or vitality.

the debilitating effects of surgery

When would disable be a good substitute for sap?

The words disable and sap can be used in similar contexts, but disable suggests bringing about impairment or limitation in a physical or mental ability.

disabled by an injury sustained at work

When might enfeeble be a better fit than sap?

While in some cases nearly identical to sap, enfeeble implies a condition of marked weakness and helplessness.

enfeebled by starvation

Where would weaken be a reasonable alternative to sap?

In some situations, the words weaken and sap are roughly equivalent. However, 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

Thesaurus Entries Near sap

Cite this Entry

“Sap.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jul. 2024.

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