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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. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for lessen
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If you do, you will give him a slovenly carriage and habits, and lessen his zeal for the sport.

    Dog Breaking William Nelson Hutchinson
  • About noon they appear to lessen perceptibly the rays of the sun.

    The Western World W.H.G. Kingston
  • Should the hair become too dry, lessen the quantity of water employed, and use a very little cocoanut or perfumed castor oil.

  • And gradually Johnnie's hope began to lessen, his faith to ooze.

    The Rich Little Poor Boy Eleanor Gates
  • He began, therefore, to lessen the number, and shorten the length of his appearances in Addison Square.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
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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