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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Passage of the bill rekindles a conflict between Mr. Trump and Democrats over disaster relief for the U.S. territory. Andrew Duehren, WSJ, "House Passes Puerto Rico Disaster-Aid Bill, Rekindling Dispute With Trump," 7 Feb. 2020 Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, joined in her opinion by five justices, wrote that the nature of the relief that Cleveland sought was better handled through the Court of Claims. Robert Higgs, cleveland, "Cleveland shown the door to another courthouse as Ohio Supreme Court overturns city’s $4.5M victory," 7 Feb. 2020 Fortunately, the helplessness felt by many people trapped in Wuhan might soon find relief. National Geographic, "‘I can’t wait to hold my kids again’: Life inside Wuhan’s quarantine," 6 Feb. 2020 Judi said Dominic had an epidural planned for Wednesday, and should feel some relief within 24-48 hours. Madeline Mitchell,, "'Nobody should go bankrupt because of a medical emergency.' GoFundMe created for Spun Bicycles owners," 6 Feb. 2020 In a separate deal, the Dodgers reportedly traded outfielder to the Angels for middle infielder , who batted .238 with seven home runs in 357 at-bats as a rookie last season, a move that will bring some payroll relief to the Dodgers. Los Angeles Times, "The Sports Report: Dodgers make blockbuster deal," 5 Feb. 2020 Tehran has already broken some of the deal’s limits as part of a step-by-step pressure campaign to get sanctions relief. Time, "'We Promise to Continue Down Martyr Soleimani's Path.' Huge Crowds of Mourners in Tehran Attend Funeral For Qasem Soleimani," 6 Jan. 2020 Tehran has already broken some of the deal's limits as part of a step-by-step pressure campaign to get sanctions relief. Author: Nasser Karimi, Jon Gambrell, Anchorage Daily News, "Iran holds massive funeral for US-slain commander amid calls for vengeance," 6 Jan. 2020 The potential for a regional conflagration was a basis of the Obama administration’s push for a 2015 agreement that froze Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief. Michael Crowley, New York Times, "U.S. Strike in Iraq Kills Qassim Suleimani, Commander of Iranian Forces," 2 Jan. 2020

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.

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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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Statistics for relief

Last Updated

10 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Relief.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for relief


How to pronounce relief (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of relief

: a pleasant and relaxed feeling that someone has when something unpleasant stops or does not happen
: the removal or reducing of something that is painful or unpleasant
: things (such as food, money, or medicine) that are given to help people who are victims of a war, earthquake, flood, etc.


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

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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

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