For a formal-sounding verb that means to make worse, try exacerbate. If you're in trouble, complaining about it will only exacerbate the problem.

Exacerbate is related to the adjective acrid, often used to describe sharp-smelling smoke. Think of exacerbate then as a sharp or bitter thing that makes something worse. A drought will exacerbate a country's food shortage. Worsen, intensify, aggravate and compound are similar, but exacerbate has the sense of an irritant being added in to make something bad even worse.

Definitions of exacerbate

v make worse

aggravate, exasperate, worsen
ameliorate, amend, better, improve, meliorate
to make better
ameliorate, better, improve, meliorate
get better
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excite to an abnormal condition, or chafe or inflame
cause inflammation in
cheapen, degrade
lower the grade of something; reduce its worth
devaluate, devalue
remove the value from; deprive of its value
chafe, fret, gall
become or make sore by or as if by rubbing
itch, rub, scratch
scrape or rub as if to relieve itching
Type of:
alter, change, modify
cause to change; make different; cause a transformation

v exasperate or irritate

aggravate, exasperate
Type of:
make angry

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