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verb (used with object), tol·er·at·ed, tol·er·at·ing.
  1. to allow the existence, presence, practice, or act of without prohibition or hindrance; permit.
  2. to endure without repugnance; put up with: I can tolerate laziness, but not incompetence.
  3. Medicine/Medical. to endure or resist the action of (a drug, poison, etc.).
  4. Obsolete. to experience, undergo, or sustain, as pain or hardship.

Origin of tolerate

1525–35; < Latin tolerātus, past participle of tolerāre to bear (akin to thole2); see -ate1
Related formstol·er·a·tive, adjectivetol·er·a·tor, nounnon·tol·er·at·ed, adjectivenon·tol·er·a·tive, adjectiveun·tol·er·at·ed, adjectiveun·tol·er·at·ing, adjectiveun·tol·er·a·tive, adjective


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2. support, accept.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for tolerate


verb (tr)
  1. to treat with indulgence, liberality, or forbearance
  2. to permit
  3. to be able to bear; put up with
  4. med to have tolerance for (a drug, poison, etc)
Derived Formstolerative, adjectivetolerator, noun

Word Origin

C16: from Latin tolerāre sustain; related to thole ²
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

Word Origin and History for tolerate


1530s, from Latin toleratus, past participle of tolerare (see toleration). Related: Tolerated; tolerating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

tolerate in Medicine


  1. To allow without prohibiting or opposing; permit.
  2. To put up with; endure.
  3. To have tolerance for a substance or pathogen.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.