[les-uh n]

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

1300–50; late Middle English lessenen, lasnen (see less, -en1); replacing Middle English lessen
Related formsun·less·ened, adjective
Can be confusedlessen lesson
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for lessen

Contemporary Examples of lessen

Historical Examples of lessen

  • You may think I say this to lessen your regard for the good woman.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • No, he could not—which admission did not lessen the glow on his cheek.

  • This increased his astonishment, and did not lessen the gloom on his face.

  • And that lurking vanity of the inferior to lessen his own inferiority did the rest.

    Roden's Corner

    Henry Seton Merriman

  • Suffice it that I have helped to lessen Kirk's horse by four of his rogues.

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

British Dictionary definitions for lessen



to make or become less
(tr) 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

Word Origin and History for lessen

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper