[sweet-n-ing, sweet-ning]


something that sweetens food, beverages, etc., as sugar, saccharine, etc.
the process of causing something to be or become sweet.

Origin of sweetening

First recorded in 1585–95; sweeten + -ing1



verb (used with object)

to make sweet, as by adding sugar.
to make mild or kind; soften.
to lessen the acridity or pungency of (a food) by prolonged cooking.
to reduce the saltiness of (a food or dish) by diluting with water, milk, or other liquid.
to make (the breath, room air, etc.) sweet or fresh, as with a mouthwash, spray, etc.
(in musical recording) to add musical instruments to (an arrangement), especially strings for a lusher sound.
  1. to make (the stomach, soil, etc.) less acidic, as by means of certain preparations, chemicals, etc.
  2. to remove sulfur and its compounds from (oil or gas).
  1. to enhance the value of (loan collateral) by including additional or especially valuable securities.
  2. to add to the value or attractiveness of (any proposition, holding, etc.).
to add more liquor to (an alcoholic drink).
Poker. to add stakes to (a pot) before opening.

verb (used without object)

to become sweet or sweeter.

Origin of sweeten

First recorded in 1545–55; sweet + -en1
Related formsnon·sweet·ened, adjectiveout·sweet·en, verb (used with object)o·ver·sweet·en, verb (used with object)pre·sweet·en, verb (used with object)re·sweet·en, verbun·sweet·ened, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sweetening

Contemporary Examples of sweetening

  • Sweetening the pot,” “upping the ante,” “showing your cards,” “folding your hand”—all those clichés stem from poker for a reason.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Obama's Poker Club Tells All

    Randall Lane

    December 8, 2010

  • Freshly grated pear barely needs any sweetening, which is why we encourage you to make the pear puree yourself.

    The Daily Beast logo
    How Top Chefs Stay Thin

    Rachel Syme

    December 15, 2009

  • Sweetening the deal was the prize Best secured for the winner: lunch with Jerry Yang, founder of Yahoo!

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Blogosphere Charity Bake-off

    Will Doig

    November 2, 2008

Historical Examples of sweetening

  • It should be almost like honey—no other sweetening is needed.

  • They were sweetening their own happiness with making the happiness of their children.

    Remember the Alamo

    Amelia E. Barr

  • In sweetening the cream, allow a teacup of sugar to each quart.

    Housekeeping in Old Virginia

    Marion Cabell Tyree

  • We also stewed our tree-cranberries (Viburnum opulus), sweetening them with sugar.

    The Maine Woods

    Henry David Thoreau

  • We are familiar with this action in the seasoning of food with salt and sweetening with sugar.


    Willis Eugene Tower

British Dictionary definitions for sweetening



something that sweetens


verb (mainly tr)

(also intr) to make or become sweet or sweeter
to mollify or soften (a person)
to make more agreeable
(also intr) chem to free or be freed from unpleasant odours, acidic or corrosive substances, or the like
finance, mainly US to raise the value of (loan collateral) by adding more securities
informal poker to enlarge (the pot) by adding chips
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 sweetening



1550s, from sweet (adj.) + verbal ending -en (1). The Middle English form of the verb was simply sweet, from Old English swetan. Related: Sweetened; sweetening.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper