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I'm not a native speaker, but I remembered the word "easen" from some previous experience, and wanted to use that. I found an entry in Wiktionary on that word with many examples (though mostly technical ones), but I could not find it in any other dictionary (also any note that it was considered "incorrect").

I also checked Google ngram, and this word is indeed used incomparably less often than its synonym "ease".

My question is: does this word exist? Is it correct in any branch of English? Does it sound correct to native speakers? Why is its usage so nonfrequent? (BTW, "nonfrequent" is also present in Wiktionary, but I couldn't find it in other dictionaries).

I would add some usage notes to Wiktionary, so references would be appreciated.

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  • "My question is: does this word exist?" Well, Wiktionary has some examples, so obviously it "exists" in some sense. Perhaps you should define what you mean by "word", since there is no authoritative definition of that . . . word. Apr 12, 2023 at 19:04
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    The verb is "ease" not "easen". Google ngram viewer has very few examples of "easen". Those examples I could find are only for people with the surname "Easen".
    – Billy Kerr
    Apr 12, 2023 at 19:51
  • Thanks for all your comments, I think we have an unanimous view now and I've accepted the answer that that "word" (whatever that would mean) does not exist :) Apr 13, 2023 at 15:50
  • Just for a reference: we had an interesting discussion with the editor who added this word to English Wiktionary, en.wiktionary.org/wiki/User_talk:Leasnam#easen . Apr 13, 2023 at 18:14

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No, it isn't a word.

The suffix -en added to an adjective normally creates a verb that means to become that thing. For example 'strengthen' means to become strong, and 'lighten' means to make lighter.

'Ease' is a verb, so it doesn't require suffixing in that way. It does refer to the action of either becoming or making something less painful or difficult, so perhaps the instances you think you saw were mistakes by people who thought it required the same suffix? Or perhaps they thought it might mean 'to make [something] easier'? Sadly, that isn't the case.

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  • Thank you. However, according to Wiktionary, "lighten" means to make brighter, illuminate. There already exists a verb "light", meaning "To illuminate; to provide light for when it is dark." It can be both transitive and intransitive. So I can see two co-existing verbs for one thing (though with some distinctions); it doesn't prove your point (or I misunderstood that). It looks more like a stylistic difference. Apr 12, 2023 at 16:45
  • Wiktionary, the "dictionary of misuse", has easen, but that's no surprise. Apr 12, 2023 at 18:18
  • @YaroslavNikitenko In all of the quotations at Wiktionary, easen can be replaced by just ease or eased or easing. The analogy with light isn't correct, because lighten is a derivative of the adjective light. Ease is not an adjective. Apr 13, 2023 at 0:20
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    @YaroslavNikitenko I never said that adding '-en' was a "rule". Not all verbs of that type have the suffix, but any English language resource will tell you that is the primary use of that particular suffix. Exceptions don't disprove a rule. The very word we are talking about 'ease' is an exception because it doesn't require it. What you have encountered is an error.
    – Astralbee
    Apr 13, 2023 at 7:53
  • @Astralbee you are right that one can't define everything in rules. I think I accept your answer; at least you seem to be very right in the fact that there is no such word in correct English. Apr 13, 2023 at 15:47

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