Definition of exacerbate in English:

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Pronunciation: /iɡˈzasərˌbāt/


[with object]
Make (a problem, bad situation, or negative feeling) worse: the exorbitant cost of land in urban areas only exacerbated the problem the forest fire was exacerbated by the lack of rain
More example sentences
  • Rising energy costs, which are a result of a growing scarcity, as well as inflation, are exacerbating the situation.
  • Pilots, unhappy at the increased expectations placed on them, are exacerbating the situation by striking for improved pay and conditions.
  • These issues were all being felt in our local communities, with the last three years of public housing reforms only exacerbating the situation.
aggravate, worsen, inflame, compound;
intensify, increase, heighten, magnify, add to, amplify, augment
informal add fuel to the fire/flames


On the difference between exacerbate and exasperate, see exasperate (usage).



Pronunciation: /iɡˌzasərˈbāSHən/ Pronunciation: /eɡˌzasərˈbāSHən/
Example sentences
  • It is possible to misinterpret worsening of symptoms as an exacerbation of multiple sclerosis.
  • Asthma exacerbations increase morbidity and mortality in patients, decrease their quality of life, and increase the cost of treatment.
  • Additionally, asthma exacerbations are reduced to levels that are arguably as low as might be expected.


Mid 17th century: from Latin exacerbat- 'made harsh', from the verb exacerbare, from ex- (expressing inducement of a state) + acerbus 'harsh, bitter'. The noun exacerbation (late Middle English) originally meant 'provocation to anger'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ex·ac·er·bate

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