ameliorate

verb
ame·​lio·​rate | \ ə-ˈmēl-yə-ˌrāt How to pronounce ameliorate (audio) , -ˈmē-lē-ə- \
ameliorated; ameliorating

Essential Meaning of ameliorate

formal : to make (something, such as a problem) better, less painful, etc. trying to ameliorate the suffering of people who have lost their jobs This medicine should help ameliorate the pain.

Full Definition of ameliorate

transitive verb

: to make better or more tolerable medicine to ameliorate the pain

intransitive verb

: to grow better

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Other Words from ameliorate

amelioration \ ə-​ˌmēl-​yə-​ˈrā-​shən How to pronounce ameliorate (audio) , -​ˌmē-​lē-​ə-​ \ noun
ameliorative \ ə-​ˈmēl-​yə-​ˌrā-​tiv How to pronounce ameliorate (audio) , -​ˈmē-​lē-​ə-​ \ adjective
ameliorator \ ə-​ˈmēl-​yə-​ˌrā-​tər How to pronounce ameliorate (audio) \ noun
amelioratory \ ə-​ˈmēl-​yə-​rə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce ameliorate (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for ameliorate

Synonyms

Antonyms

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Choose the Right Synonym for ameliorate

improve, better, help, ameliorate mean to make more acceptable or to bring nearer a standard. improve and better are general and interchangeable and apply to what can be made better whether it is good or bad. measures to further improve the quality of medical care immigrants hoping to better their lot help implies a bettering that still leaves room for improvement. a coat of paint would help that house ameliorate implies making more tolerable or acceptable conditions that are hard to endure. tried to ameliorate the lives of people in the tenements

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Ameliorate traces back to "melior," the Latin adjective meaning "better," and is a synonym of the verbs "better" and "improve." When is it better to use "ameliorate"? If a situation is bad, "ameliorate" indicates that the conditions have been made more tolerable. Thus, one might refer to drugs that ameliorate the side effects of chemotherapy; a loss of wages ameliorated by unemployment benefits; or a harsh law ameliorated by special exceptions. "Improve" and "better" apply when what is being made better can be good or bad (as in "the weather improved" and "she bettered her lot in life"), and they should certainly be chosen over "ameliorate" when something good is getting better still ("he improved his successful program"; "she bettered her impressive scores").

Examples of ameliorate in a Sentence

The disparate impact of the risk imposed by the "loser pays" rule can be ameliorated. Indeed, there are features of the British legal system which have led some observers to find the rule … to be considerably more benign to poorer litigants. — Edward F. Sherman, Texas Law Review, June 1998 And, after all, some illnesses are psychogenic. Many can be at least ameliorated by a positive cast of mind. — Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World, 1996 Even the abolitionists gave their attention not to the task of ameliorating conditions among slaves but to transforming slaves into free people. — John Hope Franklin, "The Land of Room Enough," 1981, in Race and History1989 trying to ameliorate the suffering of people who have lost their jobs This medicine should help ameliorate the pain.
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Recent Examples on the Web Buoyed by several rounds of federal funding, local governments and civic organizations spent millions of dollars to ameliorate this spike in hunger, drawing in droves of new volunteers and forming new partnerships with local farms and businesses. Washington Post, 19 Oct. 2021 The executive committee argued that this plan would ameliorate the potential for conflicts of interest because trustees would not choose the specific research and companies that would receive those funds. BostonGlobe.com, 10 Oct. 2021 The Jewish religion generally seeks to ameliorate unnecessary suffering among its faithful. Gary Shteyngart, The New Yorker, 4 Oct. 2021 Because five million to eight million Americans currently take opioids for chronic pain, these data suggest that many of today’s overdose and suicide cases may actually result from our attempts to ameliorate the crisis. Maia Szalavitz, Scientific American, 12 Sep. 2021 This shift to hybrid care could ameliorate some of the major problems in the U.S. healthcare system. Larry English, Forbes, 19 Sep. 2021 Power of a deadline St. Louis and the National Park Service first tried to ameliorate the longstanding disconnect between downtown and the Gateway Arch in the mid-1980s by adding a massive, 1,200-space parking garage on the north side of the park. Steven Litt, cleveland, 15 Aug. 2021 Some artists, including Winkelmann, have sought to ameliorate the damage by buying carbon offsets. Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker, 22 Mar. 2021 But the infrastructure bill, despite its massive outlay, is also quite clearly not enough to truly ameliorate America’s myriad problems. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 10 Aug. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ameliorate.' 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 ameliorate

1656, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for ameliorate

alteration of meliorate — see meliorate

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Time Traveler for ameliorate

Time Traveler

The first known use of ameliorate was in 1656

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Dictionary Entries Near ameliorate

ameliorant

ameliorate

ameloblast

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Last Updated

26 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ameliorate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ameliorate. Accessed 28 Oct. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on ameliorate

Nglish: Translation of ameliorate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ameliorate for Arabic Speakers

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