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From Middle English ese, ays, etc., from Anglo-Norman ese (ease), from Old French eise and aise (elbow room; opportunity), of uncertain and obscure origin. Cognate with Provencal ais, Italian agio and asio, and Portuguese azo.[1] Sometimes ascribed to Latin *asia or *asium, possibly from ansa (handle; occasion)[1] but more likely from a Vulgar Latin *adjace(m), from Latin adjacēns, present participle of adjaceō[2]. 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 ēaþe (easy), Gothic 𐌰𐌶𐌴𐍄𐌹 (azēti, ease; pleasure), *𐌰𐌶𐌴𐍄𐍃 (*azēts, easy), Breton eaz, ez (easy), Irish adhais (easy; leisure). Compare also Proto-Germanic *ansijō (loophole, eyelet; handle). 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. (obsolete) Opportunity, chance.
    2. 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]



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, Diuided into Foure Parts. [...], London: [] Robert Waley, OCLC 837515946; republished in J[ohn] P[ayne] Collier, editor, The Rocke of Regard, Diuided into Foure Parts. [...] (Illustrations of Early English Poetry; vol. 2, no. 2), London: Privately printed, [1867?], OCLC 706027473, 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.
  3. (transitive) To give respite to (someone).
    The provision of extra staff eased their workload.
  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.
  6. (transitive) To move (something) slowly and carefully.
    He eased the cork from the bottle.
  7. (intransitive) To lessen in severity.
    The pain eased overnight.
  8. (intransitive) To proceed with little effort.
    The car eased onto the motorway.




  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".