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A Word A Day — placate

October 03, 2012

Word of the Day

  • placate
  • audio pronunciation
  • \PLAY-kayt\


: to soothe or mollify especially by concessions : to calm the anger or bitterness of

In an effort to placate the angry customer, the store manager replaced the defective product with a more expensive model at no extra charge.

“He said he supported the septic tank tax but voted against it to placate the townships in his district.” — From an editorial in The Record-Eagle (Traverse City, Michigan), August 22, 2012


The earliest documented uses of “placate” in English date from the late 17th century. The word is derived from Latin “placatus,” the past participle of “placare,” and even after more than 300 years in English, it still carries the basic meaning of its Latin ancestor: “to soothe” or “to appease.” Other “placare” descendants in English are “implacable” (meaning “not easily soothed or satisfied”) and “placation” (“the act of soothing or appeasing”). Even “please” itself, derived from Latin “plac─ôre” (“to please”), is a distant relative of “placate.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at

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