relieve

verb

re·​lieve ri-ˈlēv How to pronounce relieve (audio)
relieved; relieving

transitive verb

1
a
: 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
2
a
: to bring about the removal or alleviation of : mitigate
helps relieve stress
b
: rob, deprive
relieved us of our belongings
3
a
: 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
5
a
: 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
relievable 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.
Recent Examples on the Web By striking out the side in the first inning and limiting the Cardinals to two hits, however, Yamamoto relieved the Dodgers of the fears that emerged in the wake of a dismal performance against the San Diego Padres. Dylan Hernández, Los Angeles Times, 31 Mar. 2024 The failure of the first effort relieved the city of some of the affordable-homes requirement on the next go-round. Michael Smolens, San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 Mar. 2024 Yet the pandemic did not relieve WeWork of its obligations to make the long-term lease payments. Peter Cohan, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2024 Analysts argue that the United States only has itself to blame for this predicament, given the ongoing inability of Congress to push through bipartisan immigration reform that could relieve some of the pressures on the border and smooth out delays in asylum applications. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 22 Mar. 2024 Another small study of adults 23 to 28 years old found that foods containing lemon balm (in this case, a beverage and a yogurt drink) could relieve stress. Avery Hurt, Discover Magazine, 19 Mar. 2024 When Bob recently returned to the company during a difficult time, I was relieved. Chris Morris, Fortune, 19 Mar. 2024 Curcumin, the active component of turmeric, can decrease and relieve joint pain and inflammation. Clare Mulroy, USA TODAY, 18 Mar. 2024 Marion County Sheriff Brian Wallace on Sunday said he was relieved to learn of Smith's detention. CBS News, 17 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'relieve.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near relieve

Cite this Entry

“Relieve.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/relieve. Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

relieve

verb
re·​lieve ri-ˈlēv How to pronounce relieve (audio)
relieved; relieving
1
: to free partly or wholly from a burden or from distress
relieve parents of worry
2
: to bring about the removal or reduction of
efforts to relieve world hunger
3
: to release from a post or duty
relieve a sentry
4
: to break the sameness of
a black dress relieved by a white collar
5
: to put or stand out in relief : set off by contrast (as in sculpture or painting)
6
: to discharge the bladder or bowels of (oneself)
reliever noun

Medical Definition

relieve

transitive verb
re·​lieve ri-ˈlēv How to pronounce relieve (audio)
relieved; relieving
1
: to bring about the removal or alleviation of (pain or discomfort)
2
: to discharge the bladder or bowels of (oneself)
reliever noun

Legal Definition

relieve

transitive verb
re·​lieve
relieved; relieving
: 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)

More from Merriam-Webster on relieve

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