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1571, in sense of “to take back to prison”, from Middle English repryen ‎(to remand, detain) (1494), probably from Middle French repris, form of reprendre ‎(take back); cognate to reprise. Sense generalized, but retains connotations of punishment and execution. Noun attested 1598.[1]


  • IPA(key): /rɪˈpriːv/
  • Hyphenation: re‧prieve


reprieve ‎(third-person singular simple present reprieves, present participle reprieving, simple past and past participle reprieved)

  1. (transitive) To cancel or postpone the punishment of someone, especially an execution.
  2. (transitive) To bring relief to someone.
    • South
      Company [] may reprieve a man from his melancholy, yet it cannot secure him from his conscience.
  3. (transitive, obsolete) To take back to prison (in lieu of execution).

Derived terms[edit]


reprieve ‎(plural reprieves)

  1. The cancellation or postponement of a punishment.
  2. A document authorizing such an action.
  3. Relief from pain etc., especially temporary.


  1. ^ reprieve” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary (2001).