re·​lief | \ ri-ˈlēf How to pronounce relief (audio) \

Definition of relief

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a payment made by a male feudal tenant to his lord on succeeding to an inherited estate
2a : removal or lightening of something oppressive, painful, or distressing
c : military assistance to an endangered post or force
d : means of breaking or avoiding monotony or boredom : diversion
3 : release from a post or from the performance of duty
4 : one that takes the place of another on duty
5 : legal remedy or redress
6 [French, from Middle French, from Italian rilievo relievo]
a : a mode of sculpture in which forms and figures are distinguished from a surrounding plane surface
b : sculpture or a sculptural form executed in this mode
c : projecting detail, ornament, or figures
7a : sharpness of outline due to contrast a roof in bold relief against the sky
b : the state of being distinguished by contrast throws the two opinions into bold relief
8 : the elevations or inequalities of a land surface
9 : the pitching done by a relief pitcher two innings of hitless relief



Definition of relief (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : providing relief
2 : characterized by surface inequalities
3 : of or used in letterpress

Illustration of relief

Illustration of relief


relief 6b

In the meaning defined above

Synonyms for relief

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of relief in a Sentence

Noun I felt such a sense of relief after I finished my thesis. He expressed relief that the crisis was finally over. Much to everyone's relief, the airplane took off without any problems. What a relief it is to be back home. Exercise is an excellent source of stress relief. Both candidates promised tax relief for middle-class families. Countries from around the world have been sending relief to the flood victims. We donated to the relief effort for the hurricane victims. My father lost his job and we had to go on relief. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Research by Iowa State University also finds that a little bit of exercise can improve your mood provide short-term relief for people with depression. CBS News, 3 Aug. 2022 Arielle Brown is the Founder of Bea’s Bayou Skincare, a line that aims to provide relief for people with eczema-prone scalp or skin. Essence, 2 Aug. 2022 McKee filed a public comment to the Public Utilities Commission on Monday to take specific action to provide relief to Rhode Islanders. Alexa Gagosz,, 1 Aug. 2022 Overnight shelters and cooling centers opened across the county to provide relief, with free rides there available through TriMet and the 211 hotline. oregonlive, 1 Aug. 2022 But a slowing economy should provide some relief for inflation-weary consumers. Russ Wiles, The Arizona Republic, 31 July 2022 Food banks are struggling to provide relief to Americans in need as demand and costs simultaneously skyrocket, according to the head of Georgia's largest food bank, who urged the government to provide more help. Megan Myers, Fox News, 30 July 2022 The meteorologist said these showers will provide Arkansas relief from the heat only during the weekend. Alexandria Brown, Arkansas Online, 29 July 2022 There is rain in the forecast, which could provide some relief, Lehenbauer noted. Aya Elamroussi, CNN, 28 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The anti-relief faction, with its sudden warnings about deficits, is eager to revive the Tea Party spirit, and its would-be leaders are ur-Tea Partyers like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. Ross Douthat New York Times, Star Tribune, 4 Aug. 2020 See More

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

First Known Use of relief


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1776, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for relief


Middle English relef, relief, from Anglo-French, from relever to relieve

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Time Traveler for relief

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near relief




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Statistics for relief

Last Updated

5 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Relief.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for relief


re·​lief | \ ri-ˈlēf How to pronounce relief (audio) \

Kids Definition of relief

1 : the feeling of happiness that occurs when something unpleasant or distressing stops or does not happen What a relief to be home safe.
2 : removal or lessening of something painful or troubling I need relief from this headache.
3 : something that interrupts in a welcome way The rain was a relief from dry weather.
4 : release from a post or from performance of a duty relief of a guard
6 : a sculpture in which figures or designs are raised from a background
7 : elevations of a land surface The map shows relief.


re·​lief | \ ri-ˈlēf How to pronounce relief (audio) \

Medical Definition of relief

: removal or lightening of something oppressive or distressing relief of pain symptomatic relief



Legal Definition of relief

: redress, assistance, or protection given by law especially from a court should state what relief the plaintiff seeks : as
a : release from obligation or duty relief from judgment
b : an order from a court granting a particular remedy (as return of property) injunctive relief declaratory relief — see also remedy

More from Merriam-Webster on relief

Nglish: Translation of relief for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of relief for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about relief


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