Definition of debilitate in English:



  • 1Make (someone) weak and infirm.

    ‘a debilitated patient’
    ‘a weakness that debilitates him despite his overwhelming physical might’
    • ‘There are a number of drugs that may be used to debilitate a victim and make it easier to perpetrate sexual assault.’
    • ‘Few historians have written as well as Stargardt about the morally and physically debilitating effects of hunger.’
    • ‘In recent years he became increasingly debilitated by heart failure.’
    • ‘A partially debilitated James shuffled his first steps through the medical bay, rebuilding his atrophied muscles after his injury.’
    • ‘In his late sixties, his fears of illness were fully realized, and he was increasingly debilitated by liver cancer until his death at seventy in 1875.’
    • ‘Before the series of strokes which have debilitated him in recent years, his tenure had been characterised by his chronic laziness and regular sojourns to Europe for drinking, gambling and womanising binges.’
    • ‘For most otherwise healthy people the virus, while debilitating in the short term, leaves no lasting ill effects.’
    • ‘The following year opened with a setback: a severe and debilitating mental crisis whose effects lasted several months.’
    • ‘The dose should generally be reduced in children, elderly, or debilitated patients.’
    • ‘They know a request to kitchen staff will not be met with disdain; our domestics regularly help with feeding debilitated patients in the absence of nursing staff.’
    • ‘His ability to handle such a big movie became less and less likely as he became increasingly debilitated by Parkinson's disease.’
    • ‘All four forms of malaria debilitate the patient by destroying human hemoglobin and are characterized by a cycle of fever, chills, and sweating.’
    • ‘As the disease progresses, it can debilitate a person by slowly eating away the joint's cartilage and bone.’
    • ‘Issues of fairness and equality aside, the country can't afford to have the president debilitated by the flu or the complications that can follow from it - especially when it is easily prevented.’
    • ‘At the end of my father's life he was so debilitated that, you know, he - he was forced to do some things that probably he wouldn't have done if he had been healthy.’
    • ‘Interstitial cystitis is a severely debilitating disease of the urinary bladder.’
    • ‘The illness, of which she is now clear, would have debilitated a husband of lesser fortitude.’
    • ‘‘Because you are so debilitated, you cannot move or breathe properly,’ he told the Irish Medical Times.’
    • ‘This bacterium is usually confined to hospitals and in particular to vulnerable or debilitated patients.’
    • ‘Stowell, born in 1981, claimed that his mother was debilitated by postsurgical pain and anesthesia when she signed a consent form for his circumcision.’
    weakening, enfeebling, enervating, enervative, devitalizing, draining, sapping, wearing, exhausting, tiring
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    1. 1.1 Hinder, delay, or weaken.
      ‘hard drugs destroy families and debilitate communities’
      • ‘The second factor has to do with the debilitating effects of unearned privilege.’
      • ‘The demand for land has had a debilitating effect and there has been a steady loss of agricultural land over the last few years.’
      • ‘The lack of employment spurs the mass human migrations that so debilitate the district.’
      • ‘It had a debilitating effect on the heart muscle and weakened it, resulting in death.’
      • ‘Pornography can have debilitating effects on communities, marriages, families, and children.’
      • ‘People are mostly unaware of the debilitating effects of corruption on development and human rights.’
      • ‘If this protein is so dangerous, why doesn't the body's immune system counteract the effects, or at least debilitate the protein?’
      • ‘There were many and the special effects were debilitating on such a large, clear display.’
      • ‘Research indicates that test anxiety may exert a debilitating effect on student performance.’
      • ‘The anticipated breakthrough will, if realised, bring an end to an economically debilitating 12-day strike.’
      • ‘The debilitating effects of this trial, and the events that led to it, may reverberate for years to come.’
      • ‘Sexual apartheid just like the usual sort is socially debilitating to all.’
      • ‘That had debilitating consequences on opposition politics.’
      • ‘The results of Election 2004 seem to have had a debilitating effect on the hearts and mind of the BJP top brass.’
      • ‘This letter is not about politics, traffic insanity in Lancaster or the debilitating effects of ecological degradation.’
      • ‘She is right to identify the debilitating effects of the transaction costs in the existing system.’
      • ‘The McGuire Programme has helped thousands of people overcome the debilitating effects of stammering.’
      • ‘It is debilitating and draining, and diverts the energy that should be going into reforming Scotland.’
      • ‘And Downing Street is worried about its contagion, its debilitating effect on UK democracy and the cure.’
      • ‘The longer franchise reform was delayed, the more debilitating were the effects on O'Neill's position.’
      weaken, make weak, make feeble, enfeeble, enervate, devitalize, sap, drain, exhaust, weary, tire, fatigue, wear out, prostrate
      View synonyms


Mid 16th century: from Latin debilitat- ‘weakened’, from the verb debilitare, from debilitas (see debility).