Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Assuage

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is assuage. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Assuage is a formal word most often used when the intensity of something painful or distressing, such as guilt or fear, is being lessened, as in “efforts to assuage their concerns.” Assuage can also mean “satisfy” or “alleviate.”

// City officials tried to assuage neighbors’ concerns about the new factory.

// Just beyond one of the hike’s more arduous scrambles lay a shady glen with a lively brook perfect for assuaging a climber’s thirst.

ASSUAGE in Context

“One fourth of the land is being donated back to the government, part of Disney’s attempts to assuage environmental concerns with development of the property.” — Richard Tribou, The Orlando (Florida) Sentinel, 11 Sept. 2022

Did You Know?

If you’ve ever wanted to learn how the, ahem, assuage gets made, today is your lucky day—we’ve got a sweet story to quell your hunger for word knowledge. Assuage comes from the Latin adjective suavis, meaning—you guessed it—“sweet.” (Sweet itself is also a distant relation.) Perhaps recalling Mary Poppins (as played by Julie Andrews in the titular film) singing to the Banks children will make the link indelible: “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” To assuage something painful or distressing, such as fear, guilt, or grief, is to lessen its intensity the way, say, saccharine grape flavoring helps mask some of the bitterness of cough syrup. Similarly, to assuage hunger or thirst—as for lexicographical trivia, perhaps—is to end it by satisfying it fully. We hope you’re satisfied!

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