Word Confusion: Lessen versus Lesson

Posted January 2, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Word confusions pop out at me from everywhere. Advertising, the newspaper or magazines, hearing a word on the telly, and this one popped out at me when I was editing a client’s book, so, yep, it gets added to the mix.

Hark lest ye miss the lesson within — and lessen your own vocabulary—even worse would be if the lesson were lessened for the lack of attention paid.

Ha! Say that five times fast…!

Word Confusions started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Lessen Lesson
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Merriam-Webster
Part of Grammar:
Verb, intransitive & transitive

Past tense: lessened
Past participle: lessened

Noun; Verb, transitive
Make or become less


[Archaic] To represent as of little value

To lower in status or dignity


An amount of teaching given at one time

A period of learning or teaching

  • A thing learned or to be learned by a student
  • A thing learned by experience
  • An occurrence, example, or punishment that serves or should serve to warn or encourage

A passage from the Bible read aloud during a church service, especially either of two readings at morning and evening prayer in the Anglican Church

[Archaic] Instruct or teach someone

Admonish or rebuke someone

Verb, intransitive:
The warmth of the afternoon lessened.

Verb, transitive:
The years have lessened the gap in age between us.

Medication helps lessen the severity of the symptoms.

We lessened our efforts as it became clear they weren’t having an effect.

an advanced lesson in math

a driving lesson

The tragedy is a lesson in disappointment.

Let that be a lesson to you!

I’ll lesson you!

href: theWord href: theWord
Phrasal Verb
phrasal phrasal
History of the Word:
First known use was in the 13th century. First known use was in the 13th century.

Middle English from the Old French leçon, which is from the Latin lectio.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Lessen and Lesson, Commonly Confused Words” is a post by Richard Nordquist at About.com Guide.