verb (1)
re·​lease | \ ri-ˈlēs How to pronounce release (audio) \
released; releasing

Definition of release

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to set free from restraint, confinement, or servitude release hostages release pent-up emotions release the brakes also : to let go : dismiss released from her job
2 : to relieve from something that confines, burdens, or oppresses was released from her promise
3 : to give up in favor of another : relinquish release a claim to property
4 : to give permission for publication, performance, exhibition, or sale of also : to make available to the public the commission released its findings release a new movie

intransitive verb

: to move from one's normal position (as in football or basketball) in order to assume another position or to perform a second assignment



Definition of release (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : relief or deliverance from sorrow, suffering, or trouble
2a : discharge from obligation or responsibility
b(1) : relinquishment of a right or claim
(2) : an act by which a legal right is discharged specifically : a conveyance of a right in lands or tenements to another having an estate in possession
3a : the act or an instance of liberating or freeing (as from restraint)
b : the act or manner of concluding a musical tone or phrase
c : the act or manner of ending a sound : the movement of one or more vocal organs in quitting the position for a speech sound
d : the action or manner of throwing a ball has a quick release
4 : an instrument effecting a legal release
5 : the state of being freed
6 : a device adapted to hold or release a mechanism as required
7a : the act of permitting performance or publication also : performance, publication became a best seller on its release
b : the matter released especially : a statement prepared for the press


verb (2)
\ (ˌ)rē-ˈlēs How to pronounce re-lease (audio) \
re-leased; re-leasing; re-leases

Definition of re-lease (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

: to lease again

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Other Words from release

Verb (1)

releasable \ ri-​ˈlē-​sə-​bəl How to pronounce re-lease (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for release

Synonyms: Verb (1)

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Verb (1)

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Choose the Right Synonym for release

Verb (1)

free, release, liberate, emancipate, manumit mean to set loose from restraint or constraint. free implies a usually permanent removal from whatever binds, confines, entangles, or oppresses. freed the animals from their cages release suggests a setting loose from confinement, restraint, or a state of pressure or tension, often without implication of permanent liberation. released his anger on a punching bag liberate stresses particularly the resulting state of liberty. liberated their country from the tyrant emancipate implies the liberation of a person from subjection or domination. labor-saving devices emancipated us from household drudgery manumit implies emancipation from slavery. the document manumitted the slaves

Examples of release in a Sentence

Verb (1) The hostages have been released. The judge released the prisoner. The lion was released from its cage. There is a lot of controversy over whether or not wolves should be released into the park. I released my son's hand, and he ran out onto the playground. The factory faced serious fines for releasing dangerous chemicals into the river. Heat is released into the atmosphere by cars. During exercise, the body releases chemicals in the brain that make you feel better. She started to cry, releasing all of her repressed emotion. Exercise is a good way to release stress. Noun the release of the hostages The prisoner is eligible for early release. There was a controversy over the release of wolves into the park. The prisoner was given an early release. the release of heat into the atmosphere Exercise triggers the release of chemicals in the brain that make you feel better. an accidental release of pollutants into the river They've filed a request for release from the contract. They're requesting a release from their contractual obligations. The release of the book is scheduled for next month.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Womble said the car was still stationary when a law enforcement officer grabbed the door handle of the car, and was forced to release it when the car went in a reverse position. Erin Donaghue, CBS News, "Deputies who didn't open fire in Andrew Brown Jr. shooting are back on duty," 30 Apr. 2021 The initial intent of the world's widest aircraft was to carry satellites with rockets under the center of the wing and release them at higher altitudes. Kaelan Deese, Washington Examiner, "World's widest plane scores successful second test flight," 30 Apr. 2021 Instead, the Republican National Committee will translate the English response from GOP Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, and -- most-likely -- release it after it's done, a party source confirmed to CNN. Adam Levy, Ethan Cohen And Michael Warren, CNN, "Republicans won't provide official Spanish response to President's address," 28 Apr. 2021 In March 2021, Netflix acquired the rights to release it globally on its streaming platform. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Addison Rae Reveals When "He’s All That" Is Coming to Netflix," 27 Apr. 2021 The genetics test kit is now available in Canada and the companies expect to release it in the U.S. sometime this year. Natan Ponieman, Forbes, "Can A Genetic Test Prevent Risk In Psychedelic Therapy? These Companies Are Betting On It," 27 Apr. 2021 Someone about to release themselves into a city that’s the antithesis of cubicles and nubby carpeting. Sloane Crosley, Curbed, "The Infinite Semiotics of the Office Bathroom," 26 Apr. 2021 This week, hackers stole confidential schematics from a third-party supplier and demanded $50 million not to release them. Lily Hay Newman, Wired, "Apple’s Ransomware Mess Is the Future of Online Extortion," 23 Apr. 2021 Now that the jelly has set, flip the Tupperware upside down onto a cutting board to release it. New York Times, "An Acorn Jelly That Brings Michelle Zauner Back," 22 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In the meantime, check out everything coming and going on Netflix this May, as well as the calendar of release dates for all of Netflix’s original movies and shows. Jacob Siegal, BGR, "Everything coming and going on Netflix: Week of May 2nd," 2 May 2021 Texaco spent $40 million on local cleanup and obtained a liability release from Ecuador’s government in the 1990s. Sara Randazzo, WSJ, "Litigation Without End: Chevron Battles On in 28-year-old Ecuador Lawsuit," 2 May 2021 The park's capacity will be significantly limited to comply with California's health safety requirements and promote social distancing, according to a Disneyland press release. Alexis Benveniste, CNN, "Disneyland reopens after being closed for more than a year," 2 May 2021 Two years ago, the district issued a press release saying graduation rates were 95%. Scott Travis,, "The record of Superintendent Robert Runcie: Accomplishments and exaggerations," 2 May 2021 His route-running chops and release package are NFL-ready. Daniel Oyefusi,, "DeCosta and the Ravens made ‘most of their draft capital’: What they’re saying about Baltimore’s 2021 NFL draft," 2 May 2021 YouTube page World OF Stars shared the video, in which a narrator claims the Rev. Jesse Jackson called for Cosby's release amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Mckenzie Sadeghi, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Video falsely claims Bill Cosby was released from prison," 1 May 2021 The sheriff's office launched an investigation into the incident on March 29, a press release stated. Minyvonne Burke, NBC News, "Texas sheriff's office fires deputy who punched teen, another who pulled gun on driver," 1 May 2021 The person injured or family of a person killed can object to the video release. Washington Post, "Man fatally shot by D.C. police pointed gun at officer, woman, authorities say," 1 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'release.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of release

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (2)

1828, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for release

Verb (1)

Middle English relesen, from Anglo-French relesser, from Latin relaxare to relax


Middle English reles, from Anglo-French, from relesser

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Time Traveler for release

Time Traveler

The first known use of release was in the 14th century

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Statistics for release

Last Updated

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Release.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for release



English Language Learners Definition of release

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to allow (a person or animal) to leave a jail, cage, prison, etc. : to set (someone or something) free
: to stop holding (someone or something)
: to allow (a substance) to enter the air, water, soil, etc.



English Language Learners Definition of release (Entry 2 of 2)

: the act of allowing a person or animal to leave a jail, cage, prison, etc.
: the act of allowing a substance to enter the air, water, soil, etc.
: the act of freeing someone from a duty, responsibility, etc.


re·​lease | \ ri-ˈlēs How to pronounce release (audio) \
released; releasing

Kids Definition of release

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to set free or let go of The fish was caught and released. He released his hold on the rope.
2 : to allow to escape The factory released chemicals into the river.
3 : to relieve from a duty, responsibility, or burden She released him from his promise.
4 : to give up or hand over to someone else I released my claim.
5 : to permit to be published, sold, or shown The movie will be released next month.



Kids Definition of release (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act of setting free or letting go release of a prisoner
2 : the act of allowing something to escape the release of smoke
3 : a discharge from an obligation or responsibility
4 : relief or rescue from sorrow, suffering, or trouble release from pain
5 : a device for holding or releasing a mechanism
6 : the act of making something available to the public
7 : something (as a new product or song) that is made available to the public


transitive verb
released; releasing

Legal Definition of release

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : to relieve or free from obligation, liability, or responsibility the debtor is released from all dischargeable debts
b : to give up (a claim, title, or right) to the benefit of another person : surrender
2 : to set free from confinement was released on personal recognizance



Legal Definition of release (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : discharge from an obligation or responsibility that bars a cause of action did not effect a release of the school for any negligence
b : the giving up or renunciation of a right or claim that bars a cause of action was a release of the remainder of the debt

Note: A release may in some situations require consideration in order to be valid. A release of one joint obligor sometimes is considered to release all the obligors.

2 : an act or instrument that effects a release signed a release issued by the insurer

called also release of all claims

— compare hold harmless
3 : the act or instance of freeing especially from custody

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Comments on release

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