1

Example:

We created art and entertainment to distract us and to [...] life.

What's the word or phrase to use in a situation like this?

The only thing I can think of is 'to soften up.' But I'm not sure.

  • to enhance life. – Diana Sep 25 '14 at 12:05
  • And embiggen, even. Ennoble would work also. – Phil Sweet Oct 6 '18 at 13:13
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I think sweeten may suggest the idea of making life more acceptable and enjoyable with pleasant things like art and entertainment:

  • To make more pleasant

Source: www.thefreedictionary.com

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From thefreedictionary...

alleviate
to make (pain, sorrow, etc) easier to bear; lessen; relieve

ameliorate
to make or become better or more satisfactory; improve; meliorate.

Usage: Ameliorate is often wrongly used where alleviate is meant. Ameliorate is properly used to mean "improve", not "make easier to bear", so one should talk about alleviating pain or hardship, not ameliorating it.

So OP must decide whether he thinks life is "okay, but could be better" (use ameliorate), or "almost unendurably harsh" (use alleviate).

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  • That's not what the dictionaries are saying old bean: to make (something, such as a problem) better, less painful, etc. Merriam Webster ... Funny, someone else was telling me that today ... (shrugs) – Araucaria - Not here any more. Sep 25 '14 at 16:47
  • @Araucaria: I take it you mean you don't think the above "usage note" is correct. But it accords with my own intuitive understanding, and seems to be essentially what The American Heritage Dictionary says (as cited by that answer to an earlier ELU question on the distinction). I just wouldn't put too much stress on the "wrongly" classification, since such "misuse" is in fact quite common. – FumbleFingers Sep 25 '14 at 17:34
  • Jury's out for me! But the bit in italics in my comment is from Meriam Webster. In the AHD btw, it does say: To ameliorate is to improve circumstances "that demand change": Volunteers were able to ameliorate conditions in the refugee camp. So it does look a bit as though it means with respect to a bad situation ... But it isn't explicit about it - so who knows? I am going to ameliorate my cup of tea situation though - either way! – Araucaria - Not here any more. Sep 25 '14 at 17:41
  • Actually rereading your post I may not quite have got the gist properly in the first place. Ignore me. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Sep 25 '14 at 17:45
  • @Araucaria: Well, here's the same distinction being made at some length on EnglishAnswers. I think it's perfectly valid, and that therefore OP's choice of one or the other would indeed carry clear implications for most native speakers as to how he feels about "minimal existence" life (without art or entertainment). – FumbleFingers Sep 25 '14 at 17:51
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We created art and entertainment to distract us and to enliven life.

Merriam-Webster defines enliven as:

to make (something) more interesting, lively, or enjoyable

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I would use the word "ameliorate."

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  • Please include explanations and links to definitions when providing answers, so that they can provide some insight for future visitors. For additional guidance on how to submit good answers, I encourage you to review the help center. – choster Sep 25 '14 at 14:36
  • This is already in another answer. – Matt E. Эллен Sep 26 '14 at 10:39
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To make something more tolerable can also mean to alleviate something otherwise intolerable, like pain. Or to attenuate something, to soothe, to tone down, to pacifiy, to moderate. There is more, just off the top of my head.

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  • The question asks for a word or phrase that fits the given sentence, rather than an explanation of what “making something more tolerable” means. If you have a solution, please edit your answer and provide sufficient detail (e.g. quoting a dictionary definition) to make it authoritative. For guidance, see How to Answer. – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Oct 6 '18 at 12:11

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