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From Latin exacerbo (to provoke); ex (out of; thoroughly) + acerbo (to embitter, harshen or worsen).


  • (US) enPR: ĭg-zăs'ər-bāt, IPA(key): /ɪɡˈzæsɚˌbeɪt/
  • (UK) IPA(key): /ɪɡˈzæsəˌbeɪt/, /ɪkˈsæs-/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: ex‧acer‧bate


exacerbate (third-person singular simple present exacerbates, present participle exacerbating, simple past and past participle exacerbated)

  1. (transitive) To make worse (a problem, bad situation, negative feeling, etc.); aggravate.
    The proposed shutdown would exacerbate unemployment problems.
    • 1986, Peter P. Cheng, “1978: The Four Modernizations on the March”, in Chronology of The People's Republic of China, 1970-1979[1], Scarecrow Press, Inc., →ISBN, →LCCN, →OCLC, page 395:
      Sino-Soviet relations were exacerbated by a border incident on May 9. Beijing charged that thirty Soviet troops, supported by a helicopter and navy boats, crossed the Ussuri River into the Hulin area of Heilongjiang province.
    • 2004, Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright, Shaun of the Dead:
      Liz: It's just with Ed here, it's no wonder I always bring my flat-mates out and then that only exacerbates things.
      Shaun: What do you mean?
      Liz: Well you guys hardly get on, do you?
      Shaun: No, what does "exacerbate" mean?
    • 2013 August 20, Louise Taylor, “English talent gets left behind as Premier League keeps importing”, in The Guardian[2]:
      The reasons for this growing disconnect are myriad and complex but the situation is exacerbated by the reality that those English players who do smash through our game's "glass ceiling" command radically inflated transfer fees.

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  1. second-person plural present active imperative of exacerbō




  1. second-person singular voseo imperative of exacerbar combined with te