Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To make less; reduce. synonym: decrease.
  • intransitive verb Archaic To make little of; belittle.
  • intransitive verb To become less; decrease.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To become less; contract in bulk, quantity, number, or amount; decrease; diminish; shrink.
  • To come to appear less from increase of distance.
  • To make less; diminish; reduce in number, size, degree, or quality.
  • To degrade; reduce in dignity; depreciate; disparage.
  • To cause to appear less from increase of distance; specifically, in falconry, to soar above or beyond.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To make less; to reduce; to make smaller, or fewer; to diminish; to lower; to degrade
  • intransitive verb To become less; to shrink; to contract; to decrease; to be diminished

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive To make less; to diminish; to reduce.
  • verb intransitive To become less.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb make smaller
  • verb wear off or die down
  • verb decrease in size, extent, or range

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English lessen, lessenen, from lesse, less; see less.]

Examples

  • If you have a Marine or Sailor in 1st platoon, don't be surprised if the frequency of your loved ones calls lessen and their e-mails stop altogether.

    Marine Corps Moms

  • But he knew he would have to use some other stuff to kind of lessen the sting of his disagreement with how McCain is handling that situation about a confidential source.

    Bright Shiny States - Swampland - TIME.com

  • But he knew he would have to use some other stuff to kind of lessen the sting of his disagreement with how McCain is handling that situation about a confidential source.

    Bright Shiny States - Swampland - TIME.com

  • Nor will they "lessen" it or compromise it in anyway.

    Summorum Pontificum and the Orthodox

  • For me the major breakthrough in my personal feminism was realizing that I didn't have to either agree with or even understand other's choices but that it did not "lessen" them as women or feminists.

    Feminism, adultery & choice

  • EDITED TO ADD: After 5 lovely people had read and commented on this entry, I realized I had typed the word "lessen" instead of the more appropriate "lesson" in the second to last paragraph.

    purplecigar Diary Entry

  • Could it be that when you grow up knowing that you are a disadvantaged minority in a society, you also "lessen" your dreams?

    JSOnline.com

  • I saw a giant need for us as a species to not only "lessen" our dependence on carbon based fuels, but to do away with our utilization of them as a fuel source period!

    Renewable Energy News - RenewableEnergyWorld.com

  • When dealing with job titles that are higher-level than the positions for which you are applying, reduce bulleted points under these titles in the resume, and potentially "lessen" the title to a more appropriate name (as many companies will give you big titles in exchange for less compensation).

    KMBC.com - Local News

  • In an attempt to 'lessen' the gang-rape and murder of Abeer, they insisted she was 26-years-old.

    The Common Ills

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