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From Latin palliatus (cloaked) (in Late Latin the past participle of palliare (to cover with a cloak)), from pallium (cloak).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈpalɪeɪt/ (verb)
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈpæl.i.eɪt/ (verb)
  • (file)


palliate (comparative more palliate, superlative most palliate)

  1. (obsolete) Cloaked; hidden, concealed. [15th-17th c.]
  2. (obsolete) Eased; mitigated; alleviated.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Bishop Fell to this entry?)


palliate (third-person singular simple present palliates, present participle palliating, simple past and past participle palliated)

  1. To relieve the symptoms of; to ameliorate. [from 15th c.]
    • 2009, Boris Johnson, The Evening Standard, 15 Jan 09:
      And if there are some bankers out there who are still embarrassed by the size of their bonuses, then I propose that they palliate their guilt by giving to the Mayor's Fund for London to help deprived children in London.
  2. (obsolete) To hide or disguise. [16th-19th c.]
  3. To cover or disguise the seriousness of (a mistake, offence etc.) by excuses and apologies. [from 17th c.]
    • April 5 1628, Bishop Joseph Hall, The Blessings, Sins, and Judgments of God's Vineyard
      We extenuate not our guilt : whatever we sin , we condemn it as mortal : they palliate wickedness , with the fair pretence of veniality
  4. (obsolete) To lessen the severity of; to extenuate, moderate, qualify. [17th-18th c.]
    • 1924, Herman Melville, Billy Budd, London: Constable & Co., Chapter 18, [1]
      If, mindless of palliating circumstances, we are bound to regard the death of the Master-at-arms as the prisoner's deed, then does that deed constitute a capital crime whereof the penalty is a mortal one?
  5. To placate or mollify. [from 17th c.]
    • 2007, "Looking towards a Brown future", The Guardian, 25 Jan 07:
      Brown's options for the machinery of Whitehall are constrained, as for all prime ministers, by the need to palliate allies and hug enemies close (John Reid, say).

Related terms[edit]



  • Paternoster, Lewis M. and Frager-Stone, Ruth. Three Dimensions of Vocabulary Growth. Second Edition. Amsco School Publications: USA. 1998.




  1. vocative masculine singular of palliātus