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verb, re·lieve \ri-ˈlēv\

Simple Definition of relieve

  • : to reduce or remove (something, such as pain or an unpleasant feeling)

  • : to make (a problem) less serious

  • : to take the place of (someone who has been working, fighting, etc.)

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of relieve


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to free from a burden :  give aid or help to b :  to set free from an obligation, condition, or restriction c :  to ease of a burden, wrong, or oppression by judicial or legislative interposition

  3. 2 a :  to bring about the removal or alleviation of :  mitigate <helps relieve stress> b :  rob, deprive <relieved us of our belongings>

  4. 3 a :  to release from a post, station, or duty b :  to take the place of <will relieve the starting pitcher>

  5. 4 :  to remove or lessen the monotony of <a park relieves the urban landscape>

  6. 5 a :  to set off by contrast b :  to raise in relief

  7. 6 :  to discharge the bladder or bowels of (oneself)

  8. intransitive verb
  9. 1 :  to bring or give relief

  10. 2 :  to stand out in relief

  11. 3 :  to serve as a relief pitcher

relievable play \-ˈlē-və-bəl\ adjective

Examples of relieve in a sentence

  1. I took a pill to relieve my headache.

  2. I wish I could relieve your suffering.

  3. What's the best way to relieve stress?

  4. She tried to relieve the tension by making a joke.

  5. an effort to relieve traffic congestion

  6. We need to find ways to relieve overcrowding in our schools.

  7. I've come to relieve the guard on duty.

  8. The soldiers were relieved by 30,000 fresh troops.

Origin of relieve

Middle English releven, from Anglo-French relever to raise, relieve, from Latin relevare, from re- + levare to raise — more at lever

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of relieve

relieve, alleviate, lighten, assuage, mitigate, allay mean to make something less grievous. relieve implies a lifting of enough of a burden to make it tolerable <took an aspirin to relieve the pain>. alleviate implies temporary or partial lessening of pain or distress <the lotion alleviated the itching>. lighten implies reducing a burdensome or depressing weight <good news would lighten our worries>. assuage implies softening or sweetening what is harsh or disagreeable <ocean breezes assuaged the intense heat>. mitigate suggests a moderating or countering of the effect of something violent or painful <the need to mitigate barbaric laws>. allay implies an effective calming or soothing of fears or alarms <allayed their fears>.

RELIEVE Defined for Kids


verb re·lieve \ri-ˈlēv\

Definition of relieve for Students


  1. 1 :  to free partly or wholly from a burden, pain, or distress <The phone call relieved the worried parents.>

  2. 2 :  to bring about the removal or lessening of <No words could relieve her sorrow.>

  3. 3 :  to release from a post or duty <relieve a sentry>

  4. 4 :  to break the sameness of <The dark red house was relieved by white trim.>

reliever noun

Medical Dictionary


transitive verb re·lieve \ri-ˈlēv\

Medical Definition of relieve

relieved; relieving

  1. 1:  to bring about the removal or alleviation of (pain or discomfort)

  2. 2:  to discharge the bladder or bowels of (oneself)

reliever noun

Law Dictionary


transitive verb re·lieve

Legal Definition of relieve


  1. :  to set free from a duty, burden, or liability <cannot be relieved of his negligence> <the trust cannot relieve the trustees of those very basic duties that the law imposes — Hosey v. Burgess, 890 S.W.2d 262 (1995)>

Seen and Heard

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a timid, meek, or unassertive person

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