Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for October 1, 2019 is:

mitigate • MIT-uh-gayt  • verb

1 : to cause to become less harsh or hostile : mollify

2 a : to make less severe or painful : alleviate

b : to lessen the seriousness of : extenuate


“Although Apple Hill receives the bulk of their visitors in October, most of its ranches and wineries are open from mid-August through December.… Last year, October traffic was mitigated by a grant-funded pilot program that brought a shuttle to Apple Hill.” — Dylan Svoboda, The Mountain Democrat (Placerville, California), 14 Aug. 2019

“More important than treating migraines once they come on is avoiding episodes to begin with, says Diamond. That means taking steps to adjust your work routine and office environment as much as possible in order to mitigate the specific factors that prompt episodes.” — Alejandro de la Garza, Time, 27 June 2019

Did you know?

The meaning of mitigate is straightforward enough: it is most often used to talk about making something, such as a problem, symptom, or punishment, less harsh or severe. Sometimes, however, it appears where the similar-looking militate is expected. That word, which is often followed by against, means “to have weight or effect,” as in “your unexcused absences might militate against your getting a promotion.” The two words are not closely related etymologically (mitigate descends from the Latin verb mitigare, meaning “to soften,” whereas militate traces to militare, another Latin verb that means “to engage in warfare”), but the confusion between the two has existed for long enough that some usage commentators have accepted “mitigate against” as an idiomatic alternative to militate. If you want to avoid criticism, you should keep mitigate and militate distinct.

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