tol·​er·​ate ˈtä-lə-ˌrāt How to pronounce tolerate (audio)
tolerated; tolerating

transitive verb

: to allow to be or to be done without prohibition, hindrance, or contradiction
: to put up with
learn to tolerate one another
: to endure or resist the action of (something, such as a drug or food) without serious side effects or discomfort : exhibit physiological tolerance for
tolerative adjective
tolerator noun
Choose the Right Synonym for tolerate

bear, suffer, endure, abide, tolerate, stand mean to put up with something trying or painful.

bear usually implies the power to sustain without flinching or breaking.

forced to bear a tragic loss

suffer often suggests acceptance or passivity rather than courage or patience in bearing.

suffering many insults

endure implies continuing firm or resolute through trials and difficulties.

endured years of rejection

abide suggests acceptance without resistance or protest.

cannot abide their rudeness

tolerate suggests overcoming or successfully controlling an impulse to resist, avoid, or resent something injurious or distasteful.

refused to tolerate such treatment

stand emphasizes even more strongly the ability to bear without discomposure or flinching.

unable to stand teasing

Example Sentences

Our teacher will not tolerate bad grammar. Racist or sexist behavior will not be tolerated. I can't tolerate that noise. The government cannot tolerate lawlessness. How can you tolerate such laziness? These plants tolerate drought well. I don't like my boss, but I tolerate him. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The risk for car makers is that early adopters will tolerate inconvenience, but the mass market won’t. Jennifer Hiller, WSJ, 29 Nov. 2022 In housing, the crucial issue lies in whether the government should once again tolerate people using housing investments as a way to make money, rather than simply as a place to live. Keith Bradsher, New York Times, 25 Nov. 2022 Putting cultural background aside for a moment, Ashton also praises the representation of women in this movie as headstrong characters who won't tolerate nonsense. Alicia Vrajlal,, 16 Nov. 2022 Anyone who can’t get to one of the shelters that opened Nov. 1 or can’t tolerate the shelter environment can get a motel room for the night. Doug Smithsenior Writer, Los Angeles Times, 4 Nov. 2022 Certain abuses are unlikely if not impossible today, not because of new laws or better officials but because public opinion wouldn’t tolerate them. George Packer, The Atlantic, 2 Nov. 2022 New Year's Resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time. Katie Bourque, Good Housekeeping, 28 Oct. 2022 When planting small peat pots directly into the soil (a practice often used with plants that don't tolerate root disturbance well), be careful that no part of the pot protrudes above the soil. Andrea Beck, Better Homes & Gardens, 27 Oct. 2022 Musk hasn’t announced a plan for Twitter’s content moderation but appears to be torn between a looser forum that allows more objectionable material than previous management would tolerate, while not turning off paying advertisers. Samantha Masunagastaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 31 Oct. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tolerate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Latin toleratus, past participle of tolerare to endure, put up with; akin to Old English tholian to bear, Latin tollere to lift up, latus carried (suppletive past participle of ferre), Greek tlēnai to bear

First Known Use

1524, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of tolerate was in 1524

Dictionary Entries Near tolerate

Cite this Entry

“Tolerate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



tol·​er·​ate ˈtäl-ə-ˌrāt How to pronounce tolerate (audio)
tolerated; tolerating
: to allow something to be or be done without making a move to stop it : put up with
refused to tolerate such treatment
: to withstand the action of
plants that tolerate drought
tolerate a drug

Medical Definition


transitive verb

tol·​er·​ate ˈtäl-ə-ˌrāt How to pronounce tolerate (audio)
tolerated; tolerating
: to endure or resist the action of (as a drug or food) without serious side effects or discomfort : exhibit physiological tolerance for
a premature baby … does not tolerate fats very well H. R. Litchfield & L. H. Dembo

More from Merriam-Webster on tolerate

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