Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To make (pain, for example) more bearable: a drug that alleviates cold symptoms. See Synonyms at relieve.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To make less severe, as a pain or difficulty.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To lighten or lessen the force or weight of.
  • transitive v. To lighten or lessen (physical or mental troubles); to mitigate, or make easier to be endured; ; -- opposed to aggravate.
  • transitive v. To extenuate; to palliate.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To make light, in a figurative sense; remove in part; lessen, mitigate, or make easier to be endured: as, to alleviate sorrow, pain, care, punishment, burdens, etc.: opposed to aggravate.
  • To represent as less; lessen the magnitude or heinousness of; extenuate: applied to moral conduct: as, to alleviate an offense.
  • Synonyms Alleviate, Relieve, Mitigate, Assuage, Allay, diminish, soften, abate, qualify, reduce. See allay. Where these words are applied to pain, etc., alleviate is to lighten somewhat, and especially in a soothing way; relieve and allay go further than alleviate, removing in large measure or altogether. Mitigate is to make mild, less severe; perhaps it stands midway between alleviate and relieve. Assuage is to calm down, and that idea underlies all its uses; allay conveys similarly the idea of putting to rest.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. provide physical relief, as from pain
  • v. make easier

Etymologies

Middle English alleviaten, from Late Latin alleviāre, alleviāt-, to lighten : Latin ad-, ad- + levis, light; see legwh- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Borrowing from Late Latin alleviatus, past participle of alleviare ("to lighten") (ad- ("towards") + levis ("light")). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • My understanding of the word alleviate is not to eradicate but to lessen or make less severe; that is surely not a completely impossible goal and it is usually why many people seek medical help in the first place?

    ProWomanProLife » Malcolm Gladwell and the origins of the Pill

  • Recently, I read a a media release that noted some state lawmakers have considered seeking government support in a last ditch effort to save local media outlets, yet some only see government intervention as posing a conflict of interest to free press and democracy, although in the short-term alleviate some of the financial strainnewspapers are facing.

    The Future of Newspapers-Extinction?

  • Suddenly the writer remembers the nameless malady of the poor — that mysterious disease which the rich share but cannot alleviate, which is too subtle for doctors, too incurable for Parliaments, too unpicturesque for philanthropy, too common even for sympathy.

    The Greatest Thing in the World And Other Addresses

  • Of course, he has health insurance, and he has made a fortune off insurance lobbyists and pharmaceuticals to "alleviate" their liability in lawsuits.

    McConnell: Public option a nonstarter for Senate Republicans

  • I'm sure Delta has done the same, just kind of alleviate the situation a little bit.

    CNN Transcript Nov 19, 2009

  • Kasrils said addressing these issues would "alleviate" a lot of problems.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • (Consumer Reports today said that the bumper does indeed "alleviate" the problem.)

    msnbc.com: Top msnbc.com headlines

  • The recently launched third Kenya National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS 2009-2013 highlights the need to scale up interventions among "most-at-risk" populations, including prisoners, but notes that the criminal nature of the activities of these populations posed a serious challenge to programming; the strategy aims to "alleviate" the constraints that have hampered programmes for these groups.

    AllAfrica News: Latest

  • We "alleviate" the stress by teaching more overloads, doing more class preparations, agreeing to larger class sizes, foregoing sabbaticals, never asking for release time, paying for our own conference trips, making fewer copies of articles, concurring with the hiring of more part-timers and temporary instructors, and so forth.

    MRZine.org

  • "alleviate" poverty, and the best they can do is a lessening of a burden, then they are failing.

    OneWorld.net (U.S.) - beyond your own borders

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