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[uh-ley] /əˈleɪ/
verb (used with object), allayed, allaying.
to put (fear, doubt, suspicion, anger, etc.) to rest; calm; quiet.
to lessen or relieve; mitigate; alleviate:
to allay pain.
before 1000; Middle English aleyen, Old English ālecgan to put down, allay (ā- a-3 + lecgan to lay1); spelling -ll- shows influence of the now obsolete allege (< Anglo-French, Old French aleg(i)er; see allege) to alleviate, allay
Related forms
allayer, noun
unallayed, adjective
Can be confused
allay, alley, alloy, ally (see synonym study at the current entry)
1. soften, assuage. Allay, moderate, soothe mean to reduce excitement or emotion. To allay is to lay to rest or lull to a sense of security, possibly by making the emotion seem unjustified: to allay suspicion, anxiety, fears. To moderate is to tone down any excess and thus to restore calm: to moderate the expression of one's grief. To soothe is to exert a pacifying or tranquilizing influence: to soothe a terrified child. 2. lighten, mollify, temper, ease.
1. excite. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for allay
  • To pull off the move, he'd need to allay concerns about harm to lower-income families.
  • To allay his father's impatience, he then had to deliver scenes as he finished them.
  • If they want to allay suspicion from those who doubt the claims, they are going about it wrong.
  • This does not lessen anybody's grief, but it should allay some fears.
  • The remote site was chosen deliberately to allay any fears of radioactive contamination.
  • He needs to allay these concerns.
  • Relatives tried to allay his concern, encouraging him to enjoy the moment.
  • Yet the second half was interesting and appealing enough to allay most doubts.
  • The commission report tries to allay fears on both sides.
  • That, chief financial officers say, should allay fears.
British Dictionary definitions for allay


to relieve (pain, grief, etc) or be relieved
(transitive) to reduce (fear, anger, etc)
Word Origin
Old English ālecgan to put down, from lecgan to lay1
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 allay

Old English alecgan "to put down, remit, give up," a Germanic compound (cf. Gothic uslagjan, Old High German irleccan, German erlegen), from a- "down, aside" + lecgan "to lay" (see lay).

Early Middle English pronunciations of -y- and -g- were not always distinct, and the word was confused in Middle English with various senses of Romanic-derived alloy and allege, especially the latter in an obsolete sense of "to lighten," from Latin ad- "to" + levis (see lever).

Amid the overlapping of meanings that thus arose, there was developed a perplexing network of uses of allay and allege, that belong entirely to no one of the original vbs., but combine the senses of two or more of them. [OED]
The double -l- is 17c., a mistaken Latinism. Related: Allayed; allaying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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