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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from release

Verb (1)

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for release

Synonyms: Verb (1)

loose, loosen, uncork, unleash, unlock, unloose, unloosen

Synonyms: Noun

delivery, discharge, quietus, quittance

Antonyms: Verb (1)

bridle, check, constrain, contain, control, curb, govern, hold, inhibit, regulate, rein (in), restrain, smother, tame

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.


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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The governor’s office has not released expense records from the weeklong trip. Ana Ceballos,, "On Israel trip, some state employees spent taxpayer dollars at $425-a-night hotel," 3 July 2019 Hart hasn’t released the names of the panel yet but says a Bitburger brewmaster will be the head judge. Andre Meunier,, "Eight elite NW breweries to throw down in Pilsner Fest challenge," 3 July 2019 Officials have not released the ages for any of the children The police department did not say why the three children are listed in critical condition. Phil Helsel, NBC News, "1 child dead, 3 in critical condition and their parents are on the run, officials say," 3 July 2019 Police would not release details about the killing or describe any connection that may have existed between the two men. Linda Trischitta,, "Felon charged in murder of man found in trash can," 3 July 2019 His committee has released no public report, and made no recommendations. Casey Newton, The Verge, "A conservative audit of Facebook’s speech policies is running behind schedule," 3 July 2019 The Board of Elections would not release any information until the election results were certified but confirmed that there would be a recount. New York Times, "In Surprise, Katz Pulls Just Ahead of Cabán in Queens D.A. Primary," 3 July 2019 The video game, which hits retailers Aug. 2, has released the ratings for every rookie. Troy L. Smith,, "Kyler Murray’s Madden rating is a bit of a shocker," 2 July 2019 Two men were seen fleeing in a vehicle, but police have not released detailed descriptions of the suspects and their vehicle. Bay City News, The Mercury News, "San Francisco homicides: Men shot in Western Addition and Bayview," 2 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

According to a release from the Metropolitan Police, authorities called to an address at 3:30 a.m. Saturday found 26-year-old Kelly Mary Fauvrelle suffering from stab injuries. Greg Hanlon,, "8-Months-Pregnant Mom Is Fatally Stabbed, and Baby Delivered by Paramedics Dies Days Later," 3 July 2019 The crash occurred after Bradshaw entered the northbound lane to go around the bicycle, according to a release from the Batavia Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Sheila Vilvens,, "Highway Patrol: Bicyclist dies in 2-vehicle crash in Clermont County," 3 July 2019 According to the news release from police, Wright began arguing with his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend when the man was dropping off his daughter and shots were fired. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, "Former NFL QB Anthony Wright shot after altercation with girlfriend's ex-boyfriend, police say," 2 July 2019 Valerie Bostle walked into the Dekalb County Sheriff's Office and turned herself in at about 6 p.m. Monday, according to a news release from Warren police. Dixita Limbachia., Detroit Free Press, "Suspect in Warren man's hit-and-run death surrenders to police in Georgia," 2 July 2019 Skylar Wrench has been missing since June 12, 2019, according to a release from the Missouri City Police Department. Rebecca Hennes, Houston Chronicle, "Police: Missouri City teen reported missing may be victim of human trafficking," 2 July 2019 These annual events allow visitors to enjoy a different themed activity that celebrates 19th century San Diego history and culture, according to a press release from the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Emily Sorensen, Pomerado News, "Old Town San Diego offering free historical events in July and August," 2 July 2019 Barney died Friday evening after being shot on Northeast Grandhaven Street in McMinnville, according to a news release from the McMinnville Police Department., "McMinnville police identify man killed during daytime shooting," 1 July 2019 According to a press release from the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, Leigh Ann Zirkle told police that the couple was sitting on the back porch of their West Nashville home when an unknown man approached and asked for directions. Emily Brindley,, "GoFundMe raises thousands for survivor of Nashville stabbing, in which Connecticut man was a suspect," 30 June 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about release

Statistics for release

Last Updated

6 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for release

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on release

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for release

Spanish Central: Translation of release

Nglish: Translation of release for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of release for Arabic Speakers

Comments on release

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


food or victuals

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!