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 China’s efforts have also been hampered by the refusal of its pharmaceutical companies to release data on the efficacy of their vaccines. Washington Post, "China has made big vaccine promises. When they come up short, nations struggle.," 7 Apr. 2021 My home state of North Carolina was one of the first to release coronavirus data by race. Melba Newsome, Scientific American, "We Learned the Wrong Lessons from the Tuskegee ‘Experiment’," 31 Mar. 2021 In early February, the Empire Center won a court order compelling the Health Department to release complete and detailed data on nursing home deaths. Bill Hammond, WSJ, "New York Needs to Release Its Covid Data," 24 Mar. 2021 The hospital will not release any further information on the patient, said Rich Sheehan, spokesman for Boulder Community Health, which operates the hospital. Anchorage Daily News, "Police: 10 people killed in Colorado supermarket shooting," 23 Mar. 2021 The two entities have yet to release any data from Phase III clinical trials. Fortune, "China has secured 100 million doses of BioNTech’s vaccine. Why hasn’t it approved the jab yet?," 20 Mar. 2021 Yost sued the census bureau last month, saying the bureau’s plan to release the data six months late would cause the state to miss legal deadlines in its redistricting process. cleveland, "Census Bureau pushes back on Attorney General Dave Yost’s attempts to get data by end of March: Capitol Letter," 16 Mar. 2021 Both Moderna and Pfizer have completed enrollment for studies of children ages 12 and older and expect to release the data over the summer. Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY, "When can children get COVID-19 vaccine? Will it be safe? Here's what experts want you to know.," 16 Mar. 2021 Bi Jingquan, the former head of China’s food and drug regulator, has also urged the companies to release more data on the vaccines. Jane Li, Quartz, "China’s Covid-19 success is slowing down its vaccine rollout," 10 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The press release said Easterday constructed the fraud in order to offset more than $200 million in losses incurred in the commodities trading markets. East Oregonian, oregonlive, "Rancher pleads guilty in ‘ghost cattle’ scheme, owes $244 million in restitution," 8 Apr. 2021 State Police SWAT and negotiation teams were sent to support law enforcement, the release said. William Sanders, Arkansas Online, "Texas man arrested near Hope after 5-hour I-30 standoff," 8 Apr. 2021 Participants raise money by obtaining donations in exchange for having their heads shaved, a news release said. Beacon-news Staff,, "Kane County electronics, book recycling event set for Saturday," 8 Apr. 2021 Participants will be required to follow COVID-19 protocols, including mask-wearing and social-distancing, the news release said. Hannah Kirby, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Happy Milwaukee Day! This year's 414 Day features a mix of in-person and virtual festivities. Here's your guide.," 8 Apr. 2021 All six men admitted to being illegally present in the U.S. and were placed under arrest before they were transferred to a nearby Border Patrol station for processing, the press release said. Kaelan Deese, Washington Examiner, "Border Patrol catches MS-13 gang member entering US illegally," 7 Apr. 2021 The release said one employee was examined by medical personnel, but did not require hospitalization. Cameron Knight, The Enquirer, "Hazmat responding to ammonia spill in Blue Ash," 7 Apr. 2021 The Valencia County Sheriff's Office responded to the home on a domestic violence call and found a woman and a man, later identified as East, suffering from gunshot wounds, the release said. David Aaro, Fox News, "Former MMA fighter Tyler East shot and killed in New Mexico," 7 Apr. 2021 When the car ran out of gas and stopped in Sherman County, the suspect ran on foot with his hands still handcuffed behind his back, the release said. Alta Spells And Alaa Elassar, CNN, "A handcuffed suspect stole a Kansas state patrol car and led troopers on a chase, highway patrol says," 4 Apr. 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

9 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Release.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Apr. 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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