re·​lieve | \ ri-ˈlēv How to pronounce relieve (audio) \
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 How to pronounce relievable (audio) \ adjective

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 Their results showed that inhaled cannabis does have real short-term pain-relieving benefits for those dealing with chronic neuropathic pain, but doesn’t provide many answers about any potential long-term benefits. Andrea Brooks, SELF, "The Conversation About Medical Cannabis I Wish I'd Been Able to Have With My Doctor," 21 Nov. 2019 Also, people are wondering what is going on in that new SpongeBob trailer, but also relieved someone fixed the issues with Sonic. Wired, "While You Were Offline: Lady Gaga Doesn't Remember Artpop," 17 Nov. 2019 John says some residents are relieved while others feel anxious, and a few already experience separation anxiety. Katie Orlinsky, National Geographic, "Climate change has finally caught up to this Alaska village," 22 Oct. 2019 Gutiérrez is happy for him and, frankly, relieved there is one less mouth for the farm to feed., "Robotic milking in Canada, struggling farmers in Mexico: How Wisconsin’s trading partners are weathering the dairy crisis," 18 Oct. 2019 Related Articles Officials said they were relieved to learn the fire was not apparently the result of a hate crime. Jimmy Lovrien, Twin Cities, "Homeless man admitted starting Duluth synagogue fire, said he tried to put it out by spitting on it, charges say," 16 Sep. 2019 Gonzaga strung together a 20-0 run from about the midpoint of the first half until a little more than two minutes remained until the break – a break the Aggies were relieved to take after being run up and down their own court. Brent Zwerneman, Houston Chronicle, "Texas A&M gets crushed by Gonzaga," 16 Nov. 2019 Most Indians, however, seem broadly relieved that the saga has finally come to an end. The Economist, "The Supreme Court hands India’s biggest communal flashpoint to Hindus," 14 Nov. 2019 House plants are thought to boost mood, improve focus, and relieve stress (not unlike yoga itself), while an essential oil diffuser can instantly give your space that inviting yoga-studio scent. Alexa Tucker, House Beautiful, "How to Create a Yoga Studio in Your House," 12 Nov. 2019

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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Time Traveler for relieve

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for relieve

Last Updated

3 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Relieve.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 14 December 2019.

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More Definitions for relieve


How to pronounce relieve (audio)

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 How to pronounce relieve (audio) \
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
re·​lieve | \ ri-ˈlēv How to pronounce relieve (audio) \
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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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for relieve

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with relieve

Spanish Central: Translation of relieve

Nglish: Translation of relieve for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of relieve for Arabic Speakers

Comments on relieve

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to assail by words or arguments

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