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I have been searching online for a particular word; that approximates to an antonym of ameliorate. I am after a specific word.

ameliorate verb

to make better
Synonyms ameliorate, amend, better, enhance, enrich, help, meliorate, perfect, refine, upgrade
Related Words correct, emend, rectify, reform, remediate, remedy; edit, fine-tune, redraft, refurbish, rehab, rehabilitate, revamp, revise, rework; beef (up), boost, fortify, intensify, reinforce (also reenforce), strengthen; fine, hone, polish; retouch, touch up
Near Antonyms damage, endamage, harm, hurt, impair, injure, spoil, tarnish, vitiate; blemish, blight, deface, disfigure, flaw, mar; diminish, lessen, lower, reduce
Antonyms worsen

The word is eluding me... it sounds like detiliorate.. not deteriorate. My example is, probably, misleading, as my searches on google are not throwing up any alternative words.. So I'm probably way off base.

Anyone know the word I am trying to remember?

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1  
Deteriorate is usually intransitive, but the transitive meaning ("To make worse or of inferior quality; to lower in character or excellence; to worsen.") is older, and I certainly use it occasionally. –  Colin Fine Sep 15 '13 at 11:42

3 Answers 3

up vote 14 down vote accepted

exacerbate

From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) [wn]:

  exacerbate
      v 1: make worse; "This drug aggravates the pain" [syn: {worsen},
           {aggravate}, {exacerbate}, {exasperate}] [ant:
           {ameliorate}, {amend}, {better}, {improve}, {meliorate}]
      2: exasperate or irritate [syn: {exacerbate}, {exasperate},
         {aggravate}]
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I don't think there is an antonym that ends with an -iorate because the words ameliorate and meliorate derive from a single stem (see below). The closest etymological antonym is aggravate

ameliorate comes from French meilleur and ameliorer - the direct French antonym for this word is aggraver meaning 'to make worse'.

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After I posted this, I remembered the word!

deleterious

del·e·te·ri·ous adjective \ˌde-lə-ˈtir-ē-əs\
: damaging or harmful

Synonyms
adverse, bad, baleful, baneful, damaging, dangerous, harmful, detrimental, evil, hurtful, ill, injurious, mischievous, nocuous, noxious, pernicious, prejudicial, wicked
Antonyms
anodyne, benign, harmless, hurtless, innocent, innocuous, inoffensive, safe
Related Words
hostile, inimical, unfriendly; contagious, deadly, infectious, infective, pestiferous, pestilent, pestilential, poisonous, venomous; insidious, menacing, ominous, sinister, threatening; hazardous, imperiling (or imperilling), jeopardizing, parlous, perilous, risky, unsafe, unsound; nasty, noisome, unhealthful, unhealthy, unwholesome; destructive, fatal, killer, lethal, malignant, ruinous
Near Antonyms
advantageous, beneficial, useful; favorable, good, propitious; curative, healthful, healthy, helpful, palliative, remedial, salubrious, salutary, wholesome; secure, sound; benignant; noncorrosive, nondestructive, nonfatal, noninfectious, nonlethal, nonpoisonous, nonpolluting, nontoxic, nonvenomous

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2  
This can't be right. Ameliorate is a verb; deleterious isn't. –  Brian Hooper Sep 15 '13 at 9:45
1  
They don't look exact opposite meaning either –  Pam Sep 15 '13 at 10:32
1  
@BrianHooper but the OP did say in his question "sounds like detiliorate". :) –  Mari-Lou A Sep 15 '13 at 11:12

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