The Grammarphobia Blog

Is it “militate” or “mitigate”?

Q: When did “militate against” (correct) become “mitigate against” (wrong)?
Condoleezza Rice has repeatedly used the latter in her public statements.

A: “Militate” and “mitigate” do not mean the same thing, despite Ms. Rice’s remarks. And the use of “against” with “mitigate” makes no sense. To “mitigate” is to moderate, to make milder. To “militate” is to influence or have an effect—either for or against.