reprieve

verb
re·​prieve | \ ri-ˈprēv How to pronounce reprieve (audio) \
reprieved; reprieving

Definition of reprieve

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to delay the punishment of (someone, such as a condemned prisoner)
2 : to give relief or deliverance to for a time

reprieve

noun
re·​prieve | \ ri-ˈprēv How to pronounce reprieve (audio) \

Definition of reprieve (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : the act of reprieving : the state of being reprieved
b : a formal temporary suspension of the execution of a sentence especially of death
2 : an order or warrant for a temporary suspension of the execution of a sentence
3 : a temporary respite (as from pain or trouble)

Examples of reprieve in a Sentence

Verb And many murderers have been reprieved because they were condemned for the wrong murder, quite probably just as many as have been executed for the only murder they did not in fact commit. — Christopher Hitchens, Nation, 14 May 2001 In a postscript to the very same letter, he added, 'If he must die, it were charity to reprieve him till Saturday.' If there had been any doubt of his fate, this weakness and meanness would have settled it. The very next day, which was the twelfth of May, he was brought out to be beheaded on Tower Hill. — Charles Dickens, A Child's History of England, 1854 He was sentenced to death but then reprieved. The library has been reprieved and will remain open for at least another year. Noun In Baghdad, you learn to savor small pleasures. When the weather turned unexpectedly cool one recent evening …  , people emptied out of their houses, braving the ever present threat of violence in order to enjoy a brief reprieve from the heat. — Aparisim Ghosh, Time, 11 July 2005 Six days later Captain Dufranne announced that they would sail early on the morrow. Jane would have begged for a further reprieve, had it not been that she too had begun to believe that her forest lover would return no more. — Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes, 1914 It may be, on the other hand, that the destruction of the Martians is only a reprieve. To them, and not to us, perhaps, is the future ordained. — H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds, 1898 That he did not regard it as a desperate case, that he did not say a few hours must end it, was at first felt, beyond the hope of most; and the ecstasy of such a reprieve, the rejoicing, deep and silent, after a few fervent ejaculations of gratitude to Heaven had been offered, may be conceived. — Jane Austen, Persuasion, 1817 Death, that inexorable judge, had passed sentence on him, and refused to grant him a reprieve, though two doctors who arrived, and were fee'd at one and the same instant, were his counsel. — Henry Fielding, Tom Jones, 1749 They wanted to close the library, but we managed to get a reprieve for it. This warm spell has given us a reprieve from the winter cold.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The hooker ended up hurting himself as a result of his bone-juddering hit on Artemyev but Samoa was again reprieved as Matu'u was also only shown a yellow. Ben Church, CNN, "Samoa escapes double red card as it rallies to win against Russia," 24 Sep. 2019 The Supreme Court will review the legal status of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, Obama’s reprieves from deportation for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. before age 16. Bob Egelko, SFChronicle.com, "California to Trump: See you in court, with a barrage of lawsuits," 18 Aug. 2019 Tyner, luckily, was reprieved; such stories aren’t foreign to the longtime Philadelphia radio personality. Brandon T. Harden, Philly.com, "Rare interviews of Run DMC, The Roots, Jay-Z, and others have been unearthed through this Philly radio host's new podcast," 25 Apr. 2018 Reprieved from collapse, the Ottoman Empire’s government pursued radical reforms. The Economist, "If the Ottoman Empire had not collapsedHad the Ottoman Empire been saved rather than sunk," 13 July 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun New Hampshire businesses already struggling from the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic could get a reprieve from possible tax hikes if lawmakers make a change to the state budget, as recently proposed by Gov. Chris Sununu. Sarah Downey, Washington Examiner, "New Hampshire lawmakers may repeal looming tax hike on businesses," 4 May 2020 Public housing residents would get a temporary reprieve from paying rent, and student loan borrowers would have $10,000 of debt forgiven. Laura Davison, Fortune, "House Speaker Pelosi unveils $2.5 trillion Democrat coronavirus stimulus plan as Senate bill stagnates," 24 Mar. 2020 But last fall, Detroit-Hamtramck, which GM calls D-Ham, got a reprieve in the 2019 UAW contract talks. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, "Peculiar steel beam marks last days at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck plant," 21 Feb. 2020 But no one is complaining about getting a reprieve at least through the end of this year. Tom Benning, Dallas News, "‘Last-minute save’: Texas makers of beer, wine and spirits raise a glass to Congress for extending valuable tax break," 13 Jan. 2020 Homeowners in some Louisville neighborhoods could soon be getting a reprieve on their property taxes. Alfred Miller, The Courier-Journal, "Mayor Fischer pitches tax break to combat gentrification in Louisville's neighborhoods," 6 Jan. 2020 After getting shredded by Jameis Winston and Drew Brees, the Colts defense gets a reprieve on Sunday against Panthers rookie Will Grier, a third-round pick who will be making the first start of his career and who has not thrown a pass in a game. Joel A. Erickson, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: 21 things to watch in final Colts home game of season, against Panthers," 21 Dec. 2019 Meanwhile, several high school football teams that are at risk of being locked out of the state playoffs if the walkout endures got a temporary reprieve Wednesday. BostonGlobe.com, "CHICAGO — Chicago’s teachers union voted to approve a tentative contract agreement with city officials, Wednesday, but have refused to return to work pointing to the failure of the city’s mayor to agree to additional days in the school year to makeup days lost during the strike.," 31 Oct. 2019 The Broncos scored first after getting a reprieve on a three-and-out when Frank Clark’s face-mask penalty gave Denver a first down and Royce Freeman took it in from a yard out seven plays later. Arnie Stapleton, orlandosentinel.com, "Patrick Mahomes hurts knee in Chiefs’ rout of Broncos," 17 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'reprieve.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of reprieve

Verb

1596, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1552, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for reprieve

Verb and Noun

probably blend of obsolete repreve to reprove (from Middle English) and obsolete repry to remand, postpone, from Anglo-French repri-, past stem of reprendre to take back

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about reprieve

Time Traveler for reprieve

Time Traveler

The first known use of reprieve was in 1552

See more words from the same year

Statistics for reprieve

Cite this Entry

“Reprieve.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reprieve. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for reprieve

reprieve

verb
How to pronounce reprieve (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of reprieve

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to delay the punishment of (someone, such as a prisoner who is sentenced to death)
: to prevent (something) from being closed, destroyed, etc., for a period of time

reprieve

noun
How to pronounce reprieve (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of reprieve (Entry 2 of 2)

: an official order that delays the punishment of a prisoner who is sentenced to death
: a delay that keeps something bad from happening
: a period of relief from pain, trouble, etc.

reprieve

verb
re·​prieve | \ ri-ˈprēv How to pronounce reprieve (audio) \
reprieved; reprieving

Kids Definition of reprieve

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to delay something (as the punishment of a prisoner sentenced to die)
2 : to give relief to We were reprieved when a storm closed school on test day.

reprieve

noun

Kids Definition of reprieve (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act of postponing something
2 : a temporary relief Rain brought a reprieve from the heat.
re·​prieve | \ ri-ˈprēv How to pronounce reprieve (audio) \
reprieved; reprieving

Legal Definition of reprieve

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to delay the punishment of (as a condemned prisoner)

reprieve

noun

Legal Definition of reprieve (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : the act of reprieving : the state of being reprieved
b : a formal temporary suspension of the execution of a sentence especially of death as an act of clemency
2 : an order or warrant of reprieve

History and Etymology for reprieve

Transitive verb

alteration of earlier repry to send back (to prison), return to custody, perhaps from Anglo-French repris, past participle of reprendre to take back, from Old French

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on reprieve

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

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!