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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 lessening
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Jane's money was lessening, but none of Lola's wishes had as yet been baffled.

    A Prairie Infanta Eva Wilder Brodhead
  • The wind was dying and the rain was lessening with each fitful gust.

    A Tar-Heel Baron Mabell Shippie Clarke Pelton
  • Was it by lessening his wife's esteem for him that he could reassure her?

    On Compromise John Morley
  • This could mean but one thing, the lessening of care in every department.

    The Tapestry Book Helen Churchill Candee
  • Clear out less desirable sorts, lessening the struggle for your favourites.

  • The verdict of the specialists brought no lessening of the strain.

    The Love Affairs of Pixie Mrs George de Horne Vaizey
  • Have a kitchen where you can do something toward the reformation of evil cookery and the lessening of this nation of dyspeptics.

    The Wedding Ring T. De Witt Talmage
  • 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
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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