Intended Meaning: Suppose I am feeling upset. There is a clear cause for this feeling, but I also know that if I wasn't also in a particular circumstance, I would be better equipped to temper my unhappiness. Therefore, the circumstance only changes the magnitude of how upset I feel, but it does not explain the cause of the feeling.

Connotation: Positive. I'm trying to suggest that the circumstance made visible the cause, which might have been suppressed otherwise. The function of making the cause visible is useful.

Context: In a discussion, someone tried to discount how I felt because of this circumstance: "You only feel upset because X was happening at the same time." I'm trying to say that X only helped me realize some underlying discontent.

Non-example: A word like exacerbate does not include the "making visible" aspect that I'm looking for.

What is a good word to describe the circumstance? I will accept an answer which can describe the role of amplifying in order to make perceptible.

closed as off-topic by NVZ, Janus Bahs Jacquet, Hot Licks, user140086, tchrist Jun 26 '16 at 18:33

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave these specific reasons:

  • "Please include the research you've done, or consider if your question suits our English Language Learners site better. Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic." – Hot Licks, tchrist
  • "Questions on choosing an ideal word or phrase must include information on how it will be used in order to be answered. For help writing a good word or phrase request, see: About single word requests" – NVZ, Janus Bahs Jacquet, Community
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • +1 for promoting and reinvigorating the word 'exacerbate.' – Hugh Jun 25 '16 at 9:50
  • What specifically do you mean by ‘word’? Are you looking for a noun for the circumstance (“the circumstance is a __”), an adjective (“it is a ___ circumstance”), a verb (“the circumstance ___ my situation”), or something else entirely? And what’s wrong with _exacerbate? Seems to me that means exactly what you’re looking for. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 25 '16 at 10:12
  • An adjective. I thought of exacerbate as I was writing the question. I think it works as a verb, but I wanted to collect other people's opinions to see if there are other adjectives (besides exacerbating). – quiet Jun 25 '16 at 10:14
  • 1
    As it stands now, your question will probably be closed; to avoid that, have a look at the check-list on this page to see what information should be included in a single-word-request question, and then edit your question to make sure you’ve covered all those points. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 25 '16 at 10:19
  • I believe the question should now be permissible according to guidelines. Thank you for the link - I'll keep it in mind for future questions. – quiet Jun 25 '16 at 10:29

If you want to describe an event Z which made evident the causal relation from X to Y, without being in any way the cause of Y, you might use the verb "to highlight" which in this case would mean: to bring to light, to make prominent, obvious the cause X.

Draw special attention to: 'the issues highlighted by the report'

(Oxford English Dictionary)

Of course the issues weren't caused by the report.


To bring out can mean to "develop and display" (talent), and could be transferable to a feeling or state, as in

Seeing the corpse brought out my grief. Seeing her lying there brought out my underlying feelings.

The seeing intensified the feeling so that it was exposed.

To bring into clearness, distinctness, or prominence; to develop and display (talent)

(Oxford English Dictionary)


A word somewhat similar to expose, highlight, and magnify is illuminate:


  • to make lucid or clear; throw light on (a subject).
  • to enlighten, as with knowledge.


  • to make clear : elucidate
  • to bring to the fore : highlight <a crisis can illuminate how interdependent we all are>

Other options (which are particularly related to expose) include unmask:


    to reveal the true character of; disclose; expose.


    to reveal the true identity or nature of (someone or something)

and unveil:


    to reveal or disclose by or as if by removing a veil or covering: to unveil a monument; to unveil a secret; to unveil a truth.


  • to remove a veil or covering from
  • to make public : divulge, reveal <a good time to unveil their plans>

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