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From Old French relever, specifically from the conjugated forms such as (jeo) relieve(I lift up), and its source, Latin relevo(to lift up, lighten, relieve, alleviate), combined form of re-(back) + levo(to lift). Compare levant, levity, etc.



relieve (third-person singular simple present relieves, present participle relieving, simple past and past participle relieved)

  1. To ease (a person, person's thoughts etc.) from mental distress; to stop (someone) feeling anxious or worried, to alleviate the distress of. [from 14th c.]
    I was greatly relieved by the jury's verdict.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 5, in The Celebrity:
      Then we relapsed into a discomfited silence, and wished we were anywhere else. But Miss Thorn relieved the situation by laughing aloud, and with such a hearty enjoyment that instead of getting angry and more mortified we began to laugh ourselves, and instantly felt better.
  2. To ease (someone, a part of the body etc.) or give relief from physical pain or discomfort. [from 14th c.]
  3. To alleviate (pain, distress, mental discomfort etc.). [from 14th c.]
  4. To provide comfort or assistance to (someone in need, especially in poverty). [from 14th c.]
  5. (obsolete) To lift up; to raise again. [15th-17th c.]
  6. (now rare) To raise (someone) out of danger or from (a specified difficulty etc.). [from 15th c.]
  7. (law) To free (someone) from debt or legal obligations; to give legal relief to. [from 15th c.]
    This shall not relieve either Party of any obligations.
  8. To bring military help to (a besieged town); to lift the seige on. [from 16th c.]
  9. To release (someone) from or of a difficulty, unwanted task, responsibility etc. [from 16th c.]
  10. (military, job) To free (someone) from their post, task etc. by taking their place. [from 16th c.]
  11. (now rare) To make (something) stand out; to make prominent, bring into relief. [from 18th c.]
    • 1819, Lord Byron, Don Juan, III.76:
      The henna should be deeply dyed to make / The skin relieved appear more fairly fair [...].
    • 1927, Countee Cullen, From the Dark Tower:
      The night whose sable breast relieves the stark / White stars is no less lovely being dark
  12. (reflexive) To go to the toilet; to defecate or urinate. [from 20th c.]


  • (to alleviate pain, ease): liss

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relieve m (plural relieves)

  1. relief (protrusion)