re·​lieve | \ri-ˈlēv \
relieved; relieving

Definition of relieve 

transitive verb

1a : to free from a burden : give aid or help to

b : to set free from an obligation, condition, or restriction

c : to ease of a burden, wrong, or oppression by judicial or legislative interposition

2a : to bring about the removal or alleviation of : mitigate helps relieve stress

b : rob, deprive relieved us of our belongings

3a : to release from a post, station, or duty

b : to take the place of will relieve the starting pitcher

4 : to remove or lessen the monotony of a park relieves the urban landscape

5a : to set off by contrast

b : to raise in relief

6 : to discharge the bladder or bowels of (oneself)

intransitive verb

1 : to bring or give relief

2 : to stand out in relief

3 : to serve as a relief pitcher

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Other Words from relieve

relievable \ri-​ˈlē-​və-​bəl \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for relieve


allay, alleviate, assuage, ease, help, mitigate, mollify, palliate, soothe


aggravate, exacerbate

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Choose the Right Synonym for relieve

relieve, alleviate, lighten, assuage, mitigate, allay mean to make something less grievous. relieve implies a lifting of enough of a burden to make it tolerable. took an aspirin to relieve the pain alleviate implies temporary or partial lessening of pain or distress. the lotion alleviated the itching lighten implies reducing a burdensome or depressing weight. good news would lighten our worries assuage implies softening or sweetening what is harsh or disagreeable. ocean breezes assuaged the intense heat mitigate suggests a moderating or countering of the effect of something violent or painful. the need to mitigate barbaric laws allay implies an effective calming or soothing of fears or alarms. allayed their fears

Examples of relieve in a Sentence

I took a pill to relieve my headache. I wish I could relieve your suffering. What's the best way to relieve stress? She tried to relieve the tension by making a joke. an effort to relieve traffic congestion We need to find ways to relieve overcrowding in our schools. I've come to relieve the guard on duty. The soldiers were relieved by 30,000 fresh troops.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Now, with humans flooding the area and routinely relieving themselves on various hiking trails, the goats have developed an insatiable thirst for urine, which serves as a strong source of salt and minerals. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Mountain Goats Are Being Airlifted Out of a National Park Because They Crave Human Pee," 28 Sep. 2018 The entertainment outlet reports that Lopez was in Hollywood Tuesday, and after speaking with fans, decided to pretend to relieve himself. Erin Jensen, USA TODAY, "George Lopez pretends to urinate on Trump's Hollywood Walk of Fame star," 12 July 2018 But there is also tremendous cultural resistance to the notion that automation might relieve us of some labor. Livia Gershon, Longreads, "Clocking Out," 11 July 2018 Her boat house attracts an otter whose only purpose there seems to be relieving himself. Walter Reeves, ajc, "Rose black spot can be controlled," 11 July 2018 The Smart Nora relieves me of the need to nudge him. Jancee Dunn, Outside Online, "The Best Gadgets to Improve Your Sleep," 9 July 2018 That is despite already relieving him of his managerial duties., "Chelsea Appear No Closer to Resolving Managerial Saga as Antonio Conte Leads First Day of Pre-Season," 9 July 2018 According to the 17-year-old, they were chained up for a month or two, freed only to relieve themselves, eat and brush their teeth. Adam Carlson,, "House of Horrors: 6 Harrowing Revelations as Investigators Describe Alleged Abuse," 20 June 2018 Tensions with the university’s Seattle campus first arose over Ofo workers using its bathrooms, so the company instructed its workers to stop relieving themselves on campus. Mark Harris, WIRED, "The Bike Share War Is Shaking Up Seattle Like Nowhere Else," 14 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'relieve.' 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 relieve

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

History and Etymology for relieve

Middle English releven, from Anglo-French relever to raise, relieve, from Latin relevare, from re- + levare to raise — more at lever

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Statistics for relieve

Last Updated

3 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for relieve

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

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More Definitions for relieve



English Language Learners Definition of relieve

: to reduce or remove (something, such as pain or an unpleasant feeling)

: to make (a problem) less serious

: to take the place of (someone who has been working, fighting, etc.)


re·​lieve | \ri-ˈlēv \
relieved; relieving

Kids Definition of relieve

1 : to free partly or wholly from a burden, pain, or distress The phone call relieved the worried parents.

2 : to bring about the removal or lessening of No words could relieve her sorrow.

3 : to release from a post or duty relieve a sentry

4 : to break the sameness of The dark red house was relieved by white trim.

Other Words from relieve

reliever noun


transitive verb
re·​lieve | \ri-ˈlēv \
relieved; relieving

Medical Definition of relieve 

1 : to bring about the removal or alleviation of (pain or discomfort)

2 : to discharge the bladder or bowels of (oneself)

Other Words from relieve

reliever noun

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transitive verb
relieved; relieving

Legal Definition of relieve 

: to set free from a duty, burden, or liability cannot be relieved of his negligence the trust cannot relieve the trustees of those very basic duties that the law imposesHosey v. Burgess, 890 S.W.2d 262 (1995)

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More from Merriam-Webster on relieve

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with relieve

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for relieve

Spanish Central: Translation of relieve

Nglish: Translation of relieve for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of relieve for Arabic Speakers

Comments on relieve

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


a nest or breeding place

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