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

While frustrated that their difficult journeys had ended in failure, the families were relieved their ordeals were over. Colleen Long, The Christian Science Monitor, "Families reunited, then deported to Guatemala," 12 July 2018 While frustrated that their difficult journeys had ended in failure, the families were relieved their ordeals were over. Colleen Long,, "Hugs and sobs as families separated in U.S. return to Guatemala," 11 July 2018 Yet instead of being financially relieved by this revenue boom, 18 of them burned through it and still posted annual deficits of more than $1 million in fiscal year 2017, compared to seven at that level in 2011. Christopher Schnaars, USA TODAY, "Is overspending catching up to these Power 5 schools?," 28 June 2018 Coastal residents on edge after the horrible 2017 season may be relieved by this news but should remain vigilant. Phil Klotzbach, Washington Post, "The water in the tropical Atlantic is the coldest in decades. That may stymie hurricane season.," 18 June 2018 The Boise State freshman then walked the bases loaded before being relieved by Kelsey Broadus, who gave up a double to Minnesota catcher Kendyl Lindaman that gave the Gophers a 5-2 lead. Kevin Manning, idahostatesman, "Boise State goes from no-hitter to NCAA nightmare | Idaho Statesman," 20 May 2018 Diamondbacks third baseman Daniel Descalso on winning hit vs. Brewers Richard Morin, azcentral sports Catcher Jeff Mathis started the frame with a leadoff walk and was relieved by pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson. Richard Morin, azcentral, "Diamondbacks get 'elusive' big hit, snap losing skid with win over Brewers," 15 May 2018 Owen was much more in control on Tuesday, working through five scoreless innings before running into trouble in the sixth and being relieved by Anderson. Tom Green,, "Jack Owen rebounds vs. Samford as Auburn extends win streak to 6," 24 Apr. 2018 Shareholders were doubtless relieved by Mr Zuckerberg’s robotic but gaffe-free display. The Economist, "What to make of Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony," 14 Apr. 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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Phrases Related to relieve

relieve of

relieve oneself

Statistics for relieve

Last Updated

8 Oct 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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Comments on relieve

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