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What verb could I use to mean "carry out the appropriate actions to make them less anxious"?

I thought of using to calm, but this doesn't explain what the current state of emotion (being anxious) is.

To clarify, I am looking for a verb that is used most often with the nuance of "making less anxious". I understand that anxiety has various causes such as fear, lack of confidence, or just plain medical reasons.

What I hope is to find a verb that addresses anxiety as a whole (perhaps one used most often in this context), and not individual causes of anxiety.

Perhaps if the verb is used in a sentence, "we are trying to [verb] the people", most listeners will tend to understand that people are in a state of anxiety, rather than in fear, uncertainty, anger, or pain.

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This is strictly a thesaurus question, so people downvote it (not me). It shows no research, no initiative, no sense of repsonsibility--you're asking us to do your work for you. I've done it only because I wanted to verify my impression of what word would fill the bill: mollify is a good word for this. Check it out at thesaurus.com. –  user21497 Dec 7 '12 at 5:26
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Voting is anonymous. –  Mahnax Dec 7 '12 at 5:38
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This seems to be the go-to post on anonymous downvoting: meta.stackexchange.com/q/135/154443 –  Rory Alsop Dec 7 '12 at 9:17
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@BillFranke: Only my personal opinion, but it seems to me mollify (and perhaps to a lesser extent, pacify) are normally used in respect of calming down people who are angry, rather than anxious. btw - here in the UK I can now access OED for free just using a friend's library card number (which itself would be free to me if I bothered to apply for one). –  FumbleFingers Dec 10 '12 at 1:47
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@Fumble: I won't argue with that. "Tranquilize" may be better. But that may be too pharmacological as well. –  user21497 Dec 10 '12 at 1:52

6 Answers 6

up vote 2 down vote accepted

"mollify" would seem to be the most concise way to fully express what it is you want to say.

Merriam-Webster defines it—as does every other dictionary I could find—as follows: - To soothe in temper or disposition - To reduce the rigidity of - To reduce in intensity (from the Latin mollis meaning to soften.) —[http://i.word.com/idictionary/mollify]

While other words seem to work, my experience is that "mollify" best carries a connotation of heightened negative emotions begin present, and usually implies an emotion such as fear or anxiety.

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If I go back to my question of "carry out the appropriate actions to make them less anxious", it seems to match "reassure to mollify", so I choose this as answer. –  Jake Mar 10 at 2:07

The common word used is pacify. Appease can also be used in the right context, but it means more make peace with.

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Can you provide source material for your answers to help the Original Poster use your answer more fully. –  tylerharms Dec 7 '12 at 9:18

Relax is a down to earth answer.

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I don't agree with whoever downvoted this one. It's not so common as reassure, but with 97 instances of "he relaxed me" in Google Books, it's obviously far more widespread than assuage (3 results). So welcome to ELU, @ranil, and have a counterbalancing upvote from me! –  FumbleFingers Dec 10 '12 at 1:27

Definition
assuage

verb
[with object] 1. Make (an unpleasant feeling) less intense: the letter assuaged the fears of most members.

Citation:

"...look continually in your rearview mirror while driving to assuage anxiety about having hit somebody." (anxiety-disorders)

If the context is strictly medical, the usual term is sedate (to calm or make less anxious).

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based on my limited vocabulary, this seems to be most correct so far.. –  Jake Dec 7 '12 at 15:08
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I disagree this answer. It's true assuage means to make (or become) less intense, and it's usually used in respect of "undesirable" things. But as both citations here imply, the thing being "assuaged" (the fears, anxiety) normally needs to be explicitly stated. Thus "he assuaged me" is vanishingly rare (only 3 instances in Google Books). Compare that to "he reassured me" with 28,100 results –  FumbleFingers Dec 10 '12 at 0:32
    
@FumbleFingers I just edited my question to clarify. Will you comment if your comment still holds true? My impression of "reassured" is used more often with "uncertainty" rather than "anxiety". –  Jake Dec 10 '12 at 1:29
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@Jake: Firstly, "uncertainty" and "anxiety" are very closely related concepts, and it may be impossible to establish sufficient difference between them to suppose that there would be separate words for reducing either one, but not the other. Secondly, your impression may be skewed by association with assure, which I assure you is much more likely to be used in contexts where there's uncertainty without anxiety (I'm supposing for the sake of my feeble witticism that this question isn't making you really anxious! :) –  FumbleFingers Dec 10 '12 at 1:39

I think you could get by with soothe:

soothe
v. soothed, sooth·ing, soothes
v.tr.
1. To calm or placate.
2. To ease or relieve (pain, for example).
v.intr.
To bring comfort, composure, or relief.

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Definition of reassure:

1: to assure anew <reassured him that the work was on schedule>

2: to restore to confidence <felt reassured by their earnest promise to do better>

3: reinsure

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In case that definition doesn't convince OP, here's TheFreeDictionary's to relieve (someone) of anxieties. –  FumbleFingers Dec 10 '12 at 1:43

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