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From Middle English ese, eise, aise, from Anglo-Norman ese (ease), from Old French eise, aise (elbow room; opportunity), of uncertain and obscure origin. Apparently related to Provençal ais, Italian agio and asio, Sicilian aciu and Portuguese azo.[1] Sometimes ascribed to Vulgar Latin *āsia or *āsium, possibly from Latin ānsa (handle, haft)[1] or Frankish *ansiju (handle, loophole, eyelet; cup-handle; arms akimbo, elbow room), but more often derived from Vulgar Latin *adjace(m), from Latin adjacēns (adjacent, neighbouring), present participle of adjaceō (lie next to, border on),[2] though the forms and senses are difficult to trace clearly.

Alternatively, possibly from a non-Latin source such as Germanic or Celtic on the basis of the conflicting forms which appear in various Romance languages.[3] Compare Old English īeþe (easy), Gothic 𐌰𐌶𐌴𐍄𐌹 (azēti, ease; pleasure), *𐌰𐌶𐌴𐍄𐍃 (*azēts, easy), Breton eaz, ez (easy), Irish adhais (easy; leisure). See also eath.

The verb is from Middle English esen, ultimately of the same origin.



ease (uncountable)

  1. Ability, the means to do something, particularly:
    1. Skill, dexterity, facility.
      He played the ukelele with ease.
  2. Comfort, a state or quality lacking unpleasantness, particularly:
    1. Freedom from pain, hardship, and annoyance, sometimes (derogatory, archaic) idleness, sloth.
      She enjoyed the ease of living in a house where the servants did all the work.
    2. Freedom from worry and concern; peace; sometimes (derogatory, archaic) indifference.
      The pension set her mind at ease.
    3. Freedom from difficulty.
      He passed all the exams with ease.
    4. Freedom from effort, leisure, rest.
      We took our ease on the patio.
    5. Freedom from financial effort or worry; affluence.
      His inheritance catapulted him into a life of ease.
    6. Freedom from embarrassment or awkwardness; grace.
      She dealt with the faculty with combined authority and ease.
  3. Relief, an end to discomfort, particularly:
    1. Followed by of or from: release from or reduction of pain, hardship, or annoyance.
      Take one pill every 12 hours to provide ease from pain.
    2. (euphemistic, obsolete) Release from intestinal discomfort: defecation.
    3. Release from constraint, obligation, or a constrained position.
      At ease, soldier!
    4. (clothing) Additional space provided to allow greater movement.
      Add some ease to the waist measurement.
  4. (obsolete) A convenience; a luxury.
  5. (obsolete) A relief; an easement.



Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


ease (third-person singular simple present eases, present participle easing, simple past and past participle eased)

  1. (transitive) To free (something) from pain, worry, agitation, etc.
    He eased his conscience by confessing.
    • 1576, George Whetstone, “The Ortchard of Repentance: []”, in The Rocke of Regard, [], London: [] [H. Middleton] for Robert Waley, →OCLC; republished in J[ohn] P[ayne] Collier, editor, The Rocke of Regard, [] (Illustrations of Early English Poetry; vol. 2, no. 2), London: Privately printed, [1867?], →OCLC, page 291:
      And ſure, although it was invented to eaſe his mynde of griefe, there be a number of caveats therein to forewarne other young gentlemen to foreſtand with good government their folowing yl fortunes; []
    • 2012, John Branch, “Snow Fall : The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek”, in New York Time[1]:
      Elyse Saugstad, a professional skier, wore a backpack equipped with an air bag, a relatively new and expensive part of the arsenal that backcountry users increasingly carry to ease their minds and increase survival odds in case of an avalanche.
  2. (transitive) To alleviate, assuage or lessen (pain).
    He loosened his shoe to ease the pain.
    His words of comfort eased his friend's pain and distress.
  3. (transitive) To give respite to (someone).
    The provision of extra staff eased their workload.
    • 1961 October, “The winter timetables of British Railways: Southern Region”, in Trains Illustrated, pages 593–594:
      An extra rush-hour train has eased overcrowding of the former 5.39 p.m. to Salisbury; this now leaves at 5.43 and an additional electric service to Alton departs at 5.39 p.m.
  4. (nautical, transitive) To loosen or slacken the tension on a line.
    We eased the boom vang, then lowered the sail.
  5. (transitive) To reduce the difficulty of (something).
    We had to ease the entry requirements.
    • 1974 April 6, 'Paul', “Personal advertisement”, in Gay Community News, page 8:
      I want to thank you all for easing my coming out.
  6. (transitive) To move (something) slowly and carefully.
    He eased the cork from the bottle.
  7. (intransitive) To lessen in intensity.
    The pain eased overnight.
  8. (intransitive) To proceed with little effort.
    The car eased onto the motorway.
  9. (transitive, slang, archaic) To take something from (a person), especially by robbery.
    • 1865, The Dublin University Magazine, volume 66, page 158:
      Coming up to the thief they eased him of his late acquisitions, which Redmond, restoring to the right owner, bound him over to prosecute the robber at the next assizes.
    • 1876, The Shamrock, volume 14:
      So I tucked my violin under my arm, and sallied out after the old budgy ragman, determined to ease him of his load at the very first lonesome corner I could track him to.


Derived terms[edit]



  1. 1.0 1.1 Oxford English Dictionary. "ease, n." Oxford University Press (Oxford), 1891.
  2. ^ http://www.dictionary.com/browse/ease?s=t
  3. ^ The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia. "ease".


Middle English[edit]


ease (plural eases)

  1. Alternative spelling of ese