allay

[uh-ley]
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verb (used with object), al·layed, al·lay·ing.
  1. to put (fear, doubt, suspicion, anger, etc.) to rest; calm; quiet.
  2. to lessen or relieve; mitigate; alleviate: to allay pain.

Origin of allay

before 1000; Middle English aleyen, Old English ālecgan to put down, allay (ā- a-3 + lecgan to lay1); spelling -ll- shows influence of the now obsolete allege (< Anglo-French, Old French aleg(i)er; see allege) to alleviate, allay
Related formsal·lay·er, nounun·al·layed, adjective
Can be confusedallay alley alloy ally

Synonyms for allay

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Synonym study

1. Allay, moderate, soothe mean to reduce excitement or emotion. To allay is to lay to rest or lull to a sense of security, possibly by making the emotion seem unjustified: to allay suspicion, anxiety, fears. To moderate is to tone down any excess and thus to restore calm: to moderate the expression of one's grief. To soothe is to exert a pacifying or tranquilizing influence: to soothe a terrified child.

Antonyms for allay

1. excite.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


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British Dictionary definitions for allay

allay

verb
  1. to relieve (pain, grief, etc) or be relieved
  2. (tr) to reduce (fear, anger, etc)

Word Origin for allay

Old English ālecgan to put down, from lecgan to lay 1
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 allay
v.

Old English alecgan "to put down, remit, give up," a Germanic compound (cf. Gothic uslagjan, Old High German irleccan, German erlegen), from a- "down, aside" + lecgan "to lay" (see lay).

Early Middle English pronunciations of -y- and -g- were not always distinct, and the word was confused in Middle English with various senses of Romanic-derived alloy and allege, especially the latter in an obsolete sense of "to lighten," from Latin ad- "to" + levis (see lever).

Amid the overlapping of meanings that thus arose, there was developed a perplexing network of uses of allay and allege, that belong entirely to no one of the original vbs., but combine the senses of two or more of them. [OED]

The double -l- is 17c., a mistaken Latinism. Related: Allayed; allaying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper