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[les-uh n] /ˈlɛs ən/
verb (used without object)
to become less.
verb (used with object)
to make less; reduce.
Archaic. to represent as less; depreciate; disparage.
late Middle English
1300-50; late Middle English lessenen, lasnen (see less, -en1); replacing Middle English lessen
Related forms
unlessened, adjective
Can be confused
lessen, lesson. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for lessen
  • It should lessen the impact of the tax on new construction and result in refunds for developers who already have made payments.
  • The wake of the affair will be a long one and no doubt in time its effects will lessen.
  • Higher pay would lessen the temptations of corruption.
  • The team relied on special systems to lessen the risks of such extreme diving.
  • The skill of the forensic anthropologist cannot lessen the anguish of loss, but it can lessen the anguish of doubt.
  • The new grief-counseling industry tries to help lessen the pain of loss.
  • And the university hopes the buzz from lowering its price will lessen the amount of merit aid needed to attract top students.
  • And to lessen the burden for employers, pensions will no longer have to be indexed directly to inflation.
  • Log on here to learn about some of those impacts and steps being taken to lessen the damage.
  • It is a real amazing way to sort of lessen a wars bad name.
British Dictionary definitions for lessen


to make or become less
(transitive) to make little of
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 lessen

"to become less," c.1300, from less + -en (1). Related: Lessened; lessening.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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