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Two laughing girls from Ghazni Province, Afghanistan

From Latin exhilarāre (to delight, to gladden, to make merry), from ex- (out, away) (from Proto-Indo-European *h₁eǵʰs (out)) + hilarāre, present infinitive of hilarō (to cheer, to gladden), from hilaris (cheerful, light-hearted, lively), from Ancient Greek ἱλαρός (hilarós, cheerful, merry), from ἵλαος (hílaos, gracious, kind, propitious), from Proto-Indo-European *selh₂- (comfort, mercy).



exhilarate (third-person singular simple present exhilarates, present participle exhilarating, simple past and past participle exhilarated)

  1. (transitive) To cheer, to cheer up, to gladden, to make happy.
    Good news exhilarates the mind; wine exhilarates the drinker.
    • 1605, Francis Bacon, The Tvvoo Bookes of Francis Bacon. Of the Proficience and Aduancement of Learning, Diuine and Humane. To the King, book II, London: Printed [by Thomas Purfoot and Thomas Creede] for Henrie Tomes, and are to be sould at his shop at Graies Inne Gate in Holborne, →OCLC, page 37, recto:
      For the Philiſtian preſcribeth Cures of the minde in Phrenſies, and melancholy Paſsions; and pretendeth alſo to exhibite Medicines to exhilarate the minde, to confirme the courage, to clarifie the wits, to corroborate the memorie, and the like; but the ſcruples and ſuperſtitions of Diet, and other Regiment of the body in the ſect of the Pythagoreans, in the Hereſy of the Manicheas, and in the Lawe of Mahumes doe exceede; []
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], “Musicke a Remedy”, in The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, →OCLC, partition 2, section 2, member 6, subsection 3, page 276:
      Any and ſundry are the meanes, which Philoſophers and Phyſicians haue preſcribed to exhilarate a ſorrowfull heart, to diuert thoſe fixed and intent cares and meditations, which in this malady ſo much offend; but in my judgement none ſo preſent, none ſo powerfull, none ſo [a]ppoſite as a cup of ſtrong drinke, mirth, muſicke, and merry company.
    • 1838 November 1, Charles Dickens, “XV. Mrs. Charles Dickens.”, in Life, Letters, and Speeches of Charles Dickens with Biographical Sketches of the Principal Illustrators of Dickens’s Works: Illustrated with Engravings on Steel: In Two Volumes, volume I, Boston, Mass., New York, N.Y.: Houghton Mifflin Company; The Riverside Press Cambridge [Mass.], published 1894, →OCLC, page 118:
      I slept soundly, and without feeling the least uneasiness, and am a great deal better this morning; neither do I find that the henbane has affected my head, which, from the great effect it had on me,—exhilarating me to the most extraordinary degree, and yet keeping me sleepy,—I feared it would.
    • 1843 June, “Art. XI. The Highlands, The Scottish Martyrs, and Other Poems. By the Rev. James G. Small. Edin. Whyte & Co.”, in The Monthly Review (New and Improved Series), volume II, number II, London: G. Henderson, 2, Old Bailey, Ludgate-Hill, →OCLC, page 235:
      It is now for us to say, that with very considerable powers of fancy, and a deep feeling of enthusiasm, he [James G. Small] has described the scenes of his romantic rambles, and recorded the historical or traditional events for which he cherishes such a warm veneration, in song that by turns exhilarates, captivates, and melts; and that will especially arouse Scotland's associations.
    • 1978, Michael Stewart, “The Light that Failed: April 1966 – June 1970”, in Politics & Economic Policy in the UK since 1964: The Jekyll & Hyde Years, Oxford: Pergamon Press, →ISBN, page 64:
      Returning to their desks at the beginning of April 1966, exhilarated by the size of the Labour majority, Ministers found that there had been no improvement in the economic outlook while they had been away; indeed it had grown worse.
  2. (transitive) To excite, to thrill.
    • 1856, Joel Pinney, “The Effects of Alcoholic Liquors, and the Customs of Drinking and Inebriety”, in The Duration of Human Life and Its Three Eras: When Men Attained to More than Nine Hundred Years of Age; when They Attained to Only Four Hundred and Fifty; when They Reached to Only Threescore Years and Ten; Shewing the Probable Causes and Material Agents that have Shortened the Lives of the Human Race, and the Barriers that Prevent a Return to the Longevity of the Early Patriarchs, London: Longman & Co., →OCLC, page 116:
      [A]lcohol, as all the world knows, or should know, does not nourish, but only stimulates,—exhilarates if you will, but exhilarates as fire exhilarates! Would carbon or any other combustible exhilarate only to burn up, consume, and destroy?
    • 1932, Dorothy L Sayers, chapter 12, in Have his Carcase:
      Harriet became suddenly conscious that every woman in the room was gazing furtively or with frank interest at Wimsey and herself, and the knowledge exhilarated her.


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  1. second-person plural present active imperative of exhilarō