Wordwatch Towers

A plain language guide to punctuation, grammar and writing well.

Alleviate or ameliorate

with 2 comments

Modern drug ampoules
Image via Wikipedia

‘Alleviate’ means to make something easier to bear or less severe, for example:

The drugs alleviated her pain.

He hoped to alleviate her grief by praying with her.

‘Ameliorate’ means to make something better, to improve, or to amend. For example:

The chaotic system was ameliorated by the new boss.

You can’t use ‘ameliorate’ to mean ‘alleviate’ or vice versa.

More commonly confused words

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Written by Wordwatch

03/12/2009 at 5:09 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I knew this one! 🙂

  2. I thought you would, Vikas! Despite your modesty about your English language skills, you do have an excellent command of the language.

    Deborah

    04/12/2009 at 8:43 am


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