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 Owning their homes and reaping the benefit of low mortgage payments afforded people like Holt stability and reprieve. Eileen Markey, The New Republic, 10 Jan. 2022 After a rainy week, Bay Area residents can expect a brief — and chilly — reprieve over the weekend before rainfall sweeps through once again early next week. Danielle Echeverria, San Francisco Chronicle, 17 Dec. 2021 In the early days of Joe Biden's presidency, many world leaders feared that Biden would simply be a welcome, but temporary, reprieve from former President Donald Trump's nativist and isolationist politics. David A. Andelman, CNN, 20 Aug. 2021 Hogan clearly has not done enough to reprieve for his ugly racist remarks in 2015. Alfred Konuwa, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2021 Last August, a parole board declared that Pham, 37, posed no threat to public safety and granted him reprieve. NBC News, 29 Mar. 2021 The Constitution gives the president the power to pardon and reprieve except in cases of impeachment, and some legal scholars say that wording proscribes Congress placing other limits. Erik Wasson, Houston Chronicle, 11 July 2020 Prior to the recent closure, Yosemite’s longest shutdown — and reprieve for critters — was in 1997 when the park was off limits to the public for two months after winter flooding. Kurtis Alexander, SFChronicle.com, 11 June 2020 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, 24 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Scores of legislators have called for clemency or at least a reprieve, including those who are ordinarily vigorous backers of the death penalty. New York Times, 22 Apr. 2022 The Governors Awards, an annual event that presents Hollywood luminaries with honorary Oscar statuettes, is a reprieve, of sorts, from the awards season grind. Rebecca Rubin, Variety, 25 Mar. 2022 But sometimes, the smallest thing can give you a tiny, momentary reprieve from it all. Serena Coady, SELF, 7 Mar. 2022 For now, teenage figure skater Kamila Valieva has won a temporary reprieve — the 15-year-old gets to compete in the women's single skating competition on Tuesday. Helen Regan, CNN, 15 Feb. 2022 Then Hansen got a reprieve — scarce doses of the first drug that promises six months of protection for people with no other way to fend off the virus. Lauran Neergaard, chicagotribune.com, 10 Feb. 2022 Dry January, the annual no-alcohol challenge, offers a reprieve, a reset, a chance to reflect on the influence alcohol has on our lives. Marina Pitofsky, USA TODAY, 24 Jan. 2022 But the girl who once strode valiantly into nil temperatures, wiping away eyelash icicles with nonchalance, is now a snowbird who wistfully seeks a warm—no, hot—reprieve as soon as the first sub-50 degree day of the season appears on my weather app. Rachel Besser, Vogue, 15 Jan. 2022 Southern California residents got a brief Christmas Eve reprieve from a powerful winter storm that brought flash flooding, snarled traffic and prompted evacuations in some burn areas around the region. Los Angeles Times, 24 Dec. 2021 See More

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.

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

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Time Traveler for reprieve

Time Traveler

The first known use of reprieve was in 1552

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Dictionary Entries Near reprieve

reprieval

reprieve

reprimand

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Cite this Entry

“Reprieve.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reprieve. Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for reprieve

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.

reprieve

transitive verb
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

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