[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 lessening

Contemporary Examples of lessening

Historical Examples of lessening

  • There was no lessening of the expression of certainty on the young man's face.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • There was no lessening of the bride's composure as she replied, with a little shrug.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • I never thought of lessening the distance betwixt us, I am sure.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • It will, in fact, rather accomplish the opposite, apart from lessening employment.

    War Taxation

    Otto H. Kahn

  • 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
(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 lessening



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper