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
  1. verb
    make worse
    synonyms: aggravate, exasperate, worsen
    see moresee less
    ameliorate, amend, better, improve, meliorate
    make better
    ameliorate, better, improve, meliorate
    get better
    show more antonyms...
    show 6 types...
    hide 6 types...
    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
  2. verb
    exasperate or irritate
    synonyms: aggravate, exasperate
    see moresee less
    type of:
    make angry
Word Family
F1 image

Express yourself in 25 languages

  • Learn immersively - no memorization required
  • Build skills for real-world conversations
  • Get immediate feedback on your pronunciation
Get started for $7.99/month