ameliorate (my English)

Kathy Nguyen

Senior Member
Vietnam
According to WordReference dictionary, "ameliorate" means "to make or become better or more satisfactory; improve". In other words, "ameliorate" and "improve" are synonyms with the exact same meaning (though I think "ameliorate" is more formal) but when I tried to search up the phrase "ameliorate my English" (or my English listening skills; something along those lines), Google did not pop up any websites containing the phrase. I'm wondering if it's because the phrase is not idiomatic and the way the word "ameliorate" is used is quite stilted. If so, in which contexts should I use the word?
Thank you so much for helping!
 
  • Kathy Nguyen

    Senior Member
    Vietnam
    I can't think of any situations I would use 'ameliorate'. 'Improve' is the usual word. It isn't slang.
    Thank you for replying! I just want to be sure about the usage of "ameliorate". In formal contexts, typically essays or when I want to avoid repeating "improve" by choosing other remarkable alternatives, can I use "ameliorate"? Admittedly, it is sort of a big word to me and it's fairly rare too so if I don't use it often, I'm afraid I'm going to forget it quickly.
    Thank you for your help!
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    "Ameliorate" is chiefly currently used in order to describe the reducing of the harm, damage, pain, or other disadvantageous effects etc., of or to something.

    "If you have a headache, an aspirin will ameliorate the pain." - Ameliorate is not used to mean to "improve", - the aspirin does not "improve the pain", it lessen the disadvantageous effects of the pain - which can be seen as an improvement.

    "He ameliorated the damage to the flooded house by getting rid of the water quickly and then drying all the rooms."
     

    Kathy Nguyen

    Senior Member
    Vietnam
    Thank you for answering my thread, Paul! I just got this sentence as an example for the usage of" ameliorate" from Sentence Examples
    "Ameliorate your handwriting, because I can barely decipher the text!"
    Evidently, the word "ameliorate" here doesn't indicate anything relevant to "reducing of the harm, damage, pain, or other disadvantageous effects etc., of or to something". Therefore I'm wondering if it sounds natural to you or not. Thank you for helping!
     

    Oddmania

    Senior Member
    French
    "Ameliorate" is chiefly currently used in order to describe the reducing of the harm, damage, pain, or other disadvantageous effects etc., of or to something.
    That's what I thought. "Ameliorate" literally means "to improve, to better", but I think to most English speakers it is likely to evoke similar-sounding words such as "alleviate". So you're more likely to hear it used in reference to problems, difficult situations, conditions, side effects, etc.

    "Ameliorate your English / your handwriting / your performance" sounds very foreign to me.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    "Ameliorate your handwriting" would not be said by anyone I know.

    As others have said, it only seems to be used in the context of lessening a hardship.

    The fish they finally managed to catch in the river helped ameliorate their hunger. (They were lost in the woods. Eating the fish lessened, but did not eliminate, their feeling of hunger.)
     
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