• synonyms


[ig-zas-er-beyt, ek-sas-]
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verb (used with object), ex·ac·er·bat·ed, ex·ac·er·bat·ing.
  1. to increase the severity, bitterness, or violence of (disease, ill feeling, etc.); aggravate.
  2. to embitter the feelings of (a person); irritate; exasperate.
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Origin of exacerbate

1650–60; < Latin exacerbātus (past participle of exacerbāre to exasperate, provoke), equivalent to ex- ex-1 + acerbātus acerbate
Related formsex·ac·er·bat·ing·ly, adverbex·ac·er·ba·tion, nounun·ex·ac·er·bat·ed, adjectiveun·ex·ac·er·bat·ing, adjective
Can be confusedexacerbate exasperate


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

Related Words


Examples from the Web for exacerbation

Historical Examples

  • Just prior to the onset of an exacerbation the leucocytosis is low.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 14, Slice 5


  • Now the place has been set by the ears, and a tone of exacerbation prevails.


    Norman Douglas

  • There was a slight intermission of symptoms and then an exacerbation.


    James J. Walsh

  • The fever during the attack is distinctly remittent, the evening exacerbation rarely exceeding 103 F.

  • The stock market crash of 1929 marked an extension and exacerbation of the grim farm conditions rather than a sudden decline.

    Frying Pan Farm

    Elizabeth Brown Pryor

British Dictionary definitions for exacerbation


verb (tr)
  1. to make (pain, disease, emotion, etc) more intense; aggravate
  2. to exasperate or irritate (a person)
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Derived Formsexacerbation, noun

Word Origin

C17: from Latin exacerbāre to irritate, from acerbus bitter
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 exacerbation


c.1400, from Late Latin exacerbationem (nominative exacerbatio), noun of action from past participle stem Latin exacerbare "exasperate, irritate, provoke," from ex- "thoroughly" (see ex-) + acerbus "harsh, bitter," from acer "sharp, keen" (see acrid).

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1650s, a back-formation from exacerbation or else from Latin exacerbatus, past participle of exacerbare (see exacerbation). Related: Exacerbated; exacerbating.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

exacerbation in Medicine


  1. An increase in the severity of a disease or in any of its signs or symptoms.
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Related formsex•acer•bate′ v.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.