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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.


  • IPA(key): /ɹɪˈliːv/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːv


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

  1. (transitive) 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. (transitive) To ease (someone, a part of the body etc.) or give relief from physical pain or discomfort. [from 14th c.]
  3. (transitive) To alleviate (pain, distress, mental discomfort etc.). [from 14th c.]
  4. (transitive) 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 siege on. [from 16th c.]
  9. To release (someone) from or of a difficulty, unwanted task, responsibility etc. [from 16th c.]
    • 2014, James Lambert, “A Much Tortured Expression: A New Look At `Hobson-Jobson'”, in International Journal of Lexicography, volume 27, number 1, page 57:
      They had thought it obsolete, but, were relieved of this misapprehension by Yule’s friend Major Trotter.
  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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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

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  • IPA(key): /reˈljebe/, [reˈlje.β̞e]


relieve m (plural relieves)

  1. relief (protrusion)

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