Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary
1

reprieve

play
verb re·prieve \ri-ˈprēv\

Simple Definition of reprieve

  • : to delay the punishment of (someone, such as a prisoner who is sentenced to death)

  • : to prevent (something) from being closed, destroyed, etc., for a period of time

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of reprieve

reprieved

reprieving

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to delay the punishment of (as a condemned prisoner)

  3. 2 :  to give relief or deliverance to for a time

Examples of reprieve in a sentence

  1. And many murderers have been reprieved because they were condemned for the wrong murder, quite probably just as many as have been executed for the only murder they did not in fact commit. —Christopher Hitchens, Nation, 14 May 2001

  2. In a postscript to the very same letter, he added, ‘If he must die, it were charity to reprieve him till Saturday.’ If there had been any doubt of his fate, this weakness and meanness would have settled it. The very next day, which was the twelfth of May, he was brought out to be beheaded on Tower Hill. —Charles Dickens, A Child's History of England, 1854

  3. He was sentenced to death but then reprieved.

  4. The library has been reprieved and will remain open for at least another year.



Origin and Etymology of reprieve

probably blend of obsolete repreve to reprove (from Middle English) and obsolete repry to remand, postpone, from Anglo-French repri-, past stem of reprendre to take back


First Known Use: 1596


2

reprieve

play
noun re·prieve \ri-ˈprēv\

Simple Definition of reprieve

  • : an official order that delays the punishment of a prisoner who is sentenced to death

  • : a delay that keeps something bad from happening

  • : a period of relief from pain, trouble, etc.

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of reprieve

  1. 1 a :  the act of reprieving (see 1reprieve):  the state of being reprieved b :  a formal temporary suspension of the execution of a sentence especially of death

  2. 2 :  an order or warrant for a temporary suspension of the execution of a sentence

  3. 3 :  a temporary respite (as from pain or trouble)

Examples of reprieve in a sentence

  1. In Baghdad, you learn to savor small pleasures. When the weather turned unexpectedly cool one recent evening … , people emptied out of their houses, braving the ever present threat of violence in order to enjoy a brief reprieve from the heat. —Aparisim Ghosh, Time, 11 July 2005

  2. Six days later Captain Dufranne announced that they would sail early on the morrow. Jane would have begged for a further reprieve, had it not been that she too had begun to believe that her forest lover would return no more. —Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes, 1914

  3. It may be, on the other hand, that the destruction of the Martians is only a reprieve. To them, and not to us, perhaps, is the future ordained. —H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds, 1898

  4. That he did not regard it as a desperate case, that he did not say a few hours must end it, was at first felt, beyond the hope of most; and the ecstasy of such a reprieve, the rejoicing, deep and silent, after a few fervent ejaculations of gratitude to Heaven had been offered, may be conceived. —Jane Austen, Persuasion, 1817

  5. Death, that inexorable judge, had passed sentence on him, and refused to grant him a reprieve, though two doctors who arrived, and were fee'd at one and the same instant, were his counsel. —Henry Fielding, Tom Jones, 1749

  6. They wanted to close the library, but we managed to get a reprieve for it.

  7. This warm spell has given us a reprieve from the winter cold.



Origin and Etymology of reprieve

(see 1reprieve)


First Known Use: 1592


REPRIEVE Defined for Kids

1

reprieve

play
verb re·prieve \ri-ˈprēv\

Definition of reprieve for Students

reprieved

reprieving

  1. 1 :  to delay something (as the punishment of a prisoner sentenced to die)

  2. 2 :  to give relief to <We were reprieved when a storm closed school on test day.>




2

reprieve

play
noun re·prieve

Definition of reprieve for Students

  1. 1 :  the act of postponing something

  2. 2 :  a temporary relief <Rain brought a reprieve from the heat.>




Law Dictionary

1

reprieve

play
transitive verb re·prieve \ri-ˈprēv\

Legal Definition of reprieve

reprieved

reprieving

  1. :  to delay the punishment of (as a condemned prisoner)



Origin and Etymology of reprieve

alteration of earlier repry to send back (to prison), return to custody, perhaps from Anglo-French repris, past participle of reprendre to take back, from Old French


2

reprieve

noun re·prieve

Legal Definition of reprieve

  1. 1a :  the act of reprieving :  the state of being reprieved b :  a formal temporary suspension of the execution of a sentence especially of death as an act of clemency

  2. 2 :  an order or warrant of reprieve





Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up reprieve? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

prophetic or oracular

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

confounded-person

Which is a synonym of indolent?

philistine lazy frenetic melancholy
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ