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[ig-zas-er-beyt, ek-sas-] /ɪgˈzæs ərˌbeɪt, ɛkˈsæs-/
verb (used with object), exacerbated, exacerbating.
to increase the severity, bitterness, or violence of (disease, ill feeling, etc.); aggravate.
to embitter the feelings of (a person); irritate; exasperate.
Origin of exacerbate
1650-60; < Latin exacerbātus (past participle of exacerbāre to exasperate, provoke), equivalent to ex- ex-1 + acerbātus acerbate
Related forms
exacerbatingly, adverb
exacerbation, noun
unexacerbated, adjective
unexacerbating, adjective
Can be confused
exacerbate, exasperate.
1. intensify, inflame, worsen.
1. relieve, soothe, alleviate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for exacerbate
  • Worse, the hurricane could well exacerbate the tensions that lurk in the city.
  • Many of us exacerbate the problem by treating our e-mail addresses as public information.
  • In some cases, she argues, current policies may even exacerbate the problem.
  • Job losses exacerbate the situation for homeowners with risky mortgages.
  • The results showed that today's helmet doesn't exacerbate the damage, as some previous research had suggested.
  • If the pace of progress seems slow now, it will become glacial after millions who will exacerbate the problem are added.
  • Climate change may well exacerbate chronic hunger and malnutrition across much of the developing world.
  • Budget cuts and sagging morale only exacerbate the problem.
  • You may just exacerbate a difficult situation.
  • Lower rates can stimulate business growth, but they also can undercut the dollar and exacerbate inflation.
British Dictionary definitions for exacerbate


/ɪɡˈzæsəˌbeɪt; ɪkˈsæs-/
verb (transitive)
to make (pain, disease, emotion, etc) more intense; aggravate
to exasperate or irritate (a person)
Derived Forms
exacerbation, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin exacerbāre to irritate, from acerbus bitter
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for exacerbate

1650s, a back-formation from exacerbation or else from Latin exacerbatus, past participle of exacerbare (see exacerbation). Related: Exacerbated; exacerbating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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