Word of the Day : April 9, 2012


verb uh-LEE-vee-ayt


a : relieve, lessen: as

b : to make (as suffering) more bearable

c : to partially remove or correct

Did You Know?

"Alleviate" derives from the past participle of Late Latin "alleviare" ("to lighten or relieve"), which in turn was formed by combining the prefix "ad-" and the adjective "levis," a Latin word meaning "light" or "having little weight." ("Levis" comes from the same ancient word that gave rise to "light" in English.) We acquired "alleviate" in the 15th century, and for the first few centuries the word could mean either "to cause (something) to have less weight" or "to make (something) more tolerable." The literal "make lighter" sense is no longer used, however, so today we have only the "relieve" sense. Incidentally, not only is "alleviate" a synonym of "relieve," it's also a cousin; "relieve" comes from "levare" ("to raise"), which in turn comes from "levis."


Mom suggested that ibuprofen and tea would perhaps alleviate some of the misery of my cold.

"Public health officials are pushing to alleviate crowds at Boston's emergency rooms by redirecting patients without life-threatening ailments to one of the city's 25 community health centers …" - From an article by Andrew Ryan in The Boston Globe, March 6, 2012

Name That Synonym

What synonym of "alleviate" comes from Latin "pallium," meaning "cloak"? The answer is ...


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