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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 lessening
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There was no lessening of the expression of certainty on the young man's face.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • There was no lessening of the bride's composure as she replied, with a little shrug.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • I never thought of lessening the distance betwixt us, I am sure.

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
  • It will, in fact, rather accomplish the opposite, apart from lessening employment.

    War Taxation Otto H. Kahn
  • And ever, it seemed to me from the answers that I got, was I lessening the distance that separated us.

    The Strolling Saint Raphael Sabatini
  • “Yes, you did,” she agreed, with no lessening of her coldness.

    Out of the Depths

    Robert Ames Bennet
  • It was reckoning with the near-coming day and was lessening in fury.

    Janet of the Dunes

    Harriet T. Comstock
  • As the water rose and rose, the sound of her guns was like a lessening thunder.

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
British Dictionary definitions for lessening


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 lessening



"to become less," c.1300, from less + -en (1). Related: Lessened; lessening.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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