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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.
Origin of lessen
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. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for lessening
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Jane's money was lessening, but none of Lola's wishes had as yet been baffled.

    A Prairie Infanta Eva Wilder Brodhead
  • And ever, it seemed to me from the answers that I got, was I lessening the distance that separated us.

    The Strolling Saint Raphael Sabatini
  • Was it by lessening his wife's esteem for him that he could reassure her?

    On Compromise John Morley
  • As the water rose and rose, the sound of her guns was like a lessening thunder.

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
  • Clear out less desirable sorts, lessening the struggle for your favourites.

  • But the pressure to conform, instead of lessening, grew more intense.

    The Status Civilization Robert Sheckley
  • Have a kitchen where you can do something toward the reformation of evil cookery and the lessening of this nation of dyspeptics.

    The Wedding Ring T. De Witt Talmage
  • I took no risk of lessening the effect created by his having to come to me.

    The Plum Tree David Graham Phillips
British Dictionary definitions for lessening


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 lessening



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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