Definition of mitigate in English:



[with object]
  • 1Make (something bad) less severe, serious, or painful.

    ‘drainage schemes have helped to mitigate this problem’
    • ‘But the issue won't be mitigated until conservatives make a serious effort to get into academics and make their arguments heard.’
    • ‘To say that statistics mitigate murder is obviously contemptible.’
    • ‘To some degree, the general improvement of the housing stock that has taken place in recent years has mitigated some of the worst features of physical deprivation.’
    • ‘The dehumanizing effects of looking for work and going to temp agencies, however, have somewhat mitigated the boost.’
    • ‘Parliament, however, has sought to mitigate the worst effects of strict liability by including defences in some statutes.’
    • ‘The uniting factor is that withdrawal of specific glutens mitigates symptoms in a significant number of individuals with these gluten-associated diseases.’
    • ‘In fact, there is alarming evidence that a significant number of people actually believe that where drinking is a factor in rape, it mitigates the offence itself.’
    • ‘Politics is meant to mitigate the misery to which our inborn condition consigns us, not add to it.’
    • ‘As it stands, this preposterously long-term deal only mitigates the first year of that possibility.’
    • ‘Proper planning can significantly mitigate the deemed interest benefit income or debt income inclusion.’
    • ‘By pooling resources, the quality of art, writing and casting could be enhanced, mitigating some of the risk for an investor.’
    • ‘If you have serious credit card debts, the best way to mitigate the bill is to switch to zero interest plastic.’
    • ‘We should welcome an opportunity to mitigate the misery of a lingering death of a person who longs to die.’
    • ‘One might believe that the many inconveniences residents encountered were mitigated by the festive improvements in the city's appearance.’
    • ‘It follows that vulnerability to occasional, but severe, financial crises could be mitigated if countries were to abolish their own currencies.’
    • ‘Every case of slavery, however lenient its inflictions and mitigated its atrocities, indicates an oppressor, the oppressed, and oppression.’
    • ‘We have, long term, a great deal to gain from mitigating the effects of global warming.’
    • ‘It seems to have become accepted that poverty will always exist - the aim of policy is merely to mitigate its worst effects.’
    • ‘So government will have to take some sort of measures to mitigate this.’
    • ‘One is to develop a serious plan for mitigating extreme poverty.’
    alleviate, reduce, diminish, lessen, weaken, lighten, attenuate, take the edge off, allay, ease, assuage, palliate, cushion, damp, deaden, dull, appease, soothe, relieve, help, soften, temper, still, quell, quieten, quiet, tone down, blunt, dilute, moderate, modify, abate, lull, pacify, placate, mollify, sweeten, tranquillize, remit, extenuate, excuse, commute
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    1. 1.1 Lessen the gravity of (an offence or mistake)
      ‘there had been a provocation that mitigated the offence to a degree’
      • ‘These are mitigating circumstances for commuting the death sentence.’
      • ‘Oh, of course there are mitigating circumstances, such as being too young, or too ill to be in command of your existence.’
      • ‘Therefore, there are not mitigating circumstances to suggest that he has revealed other matters as a result of that meeting.’
      • ‘Not his finest hour in football but there were mitigating circumstances.’
      • ‘Clearly, there can be mitigating circumstances as the Panel recognises.’
      • ‘We could get bogged down in legal argument, factor in mitigating circumstances and take previous behaviour into consideration.’
      • ‘Another major point in the argument against capital punishment is called mitigating circumstances.’
      • ‘If there turns out to be mitigating circumstances, they would come out in the court case.’
      • ‘Even manslaughter could be covered by a fine if there were mitigating circumstances, or if the victim were a slave.’
      • ‘However, while it looks like the gaffe of the decade, there are mitigating circumstances.’
      • ‘There were mitigating circumstances for the error which I shall not go into here.’
      • ‘Yet if there were mitigating circumstances, it seems incredible that he would not have used them to defend himself at the hearing.’
      • ‘Unless there are mitigating circumstances, that's as much as an athlete is permitted.’
      • ‘And he may well have had mitigating circumstances in making his decision.’
      • ‘Judges and Magistrates have discretion and accept mitigating circumstances and the limits of the law.’
      • ‘Whilst not going into what it was here, we were both pleading guilty with mitigating circumstances.’
      • ‘Would the fact that the ladies were correcting mistakes count as mitigating circumstances?’
      • ‘He'll almost certainly get a ban but we are looking at mitigating circumstances.’
      • ‘Now it hardly needs adding that mitigating circumstances exist for the dearth of success on the ski slopes.’
      • ‘You have to take into account a lot of ancillary factors and mitigating circumstances.’
      extenuating, exonerative, justificatory, justifying, vindicatory, vindicating, exculpatory, palliative, qualifying, moderating, modifying, tempering, lessening
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The verbs mitigate and militate do not have the same meaning, although the similarity of the forms leads many people to confuse them. Mitigate means ‘make (something bad) less severe’, as in drainage schemes have helped to mitigate this problem, while militate is nearly always used in constructions with against to mean ‘be a powerful factor in preventing’, as in these disagreements will militate against the two communities coming together


Late Middle English: from Latin mitigat- ‘softened, alleviated’, from the verb mitigare, from mitis ‘mild’.