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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for lessen
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You may think I say this to lessen your regard for the good woman.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • No, he could not—which admission did not lessen the glow on his cheek.

    Ester Ried Yet Speaking Isabella Alden
  • This increased his astonishment, and did not lessen the gloom on his face.

    Ester Ried Yet Speaking Isabella Alden
  • And that lurking vanity of the inferior to lessen his own inferiority did the rest.

    Roden's Corner Henry Seton Merriman
  • Suffice it that I have helped to lessen Kirk's horse by four of his rogues.

    Micah Clarke Arthur Conan Doyle
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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