reprieve

1 of 2

verb

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

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

2 of 2

noun

re·​prieve ri-ˈprēv How to pronounce reprieve (audio)
1
a
: 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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Swaths of the state are so often in drought that brief reprieves from dryness merit news stories — as in 2023, when the Drought Monitor declared the state drought-free for the first time since 2019. Elise Schmelzer, The Denver Post, 25 June 2024 Choose your plan → MOST READ Weather 1 Where temperatures will be highest during next week’s brutal heat wave 2 D.C.-area forecast: Weekend weather reprieve ahead of a hot week 3 Where extreme heat will pose the biggest threat: Look up your city 4 El Niño has ended. Ian Livingston, Washington Post, 14 June 2024
Noun
That reprieve now appears to have been an intermission to the debate rather than a conclusion. Tal Axelrod, ABC News, 17 July 2024 If the court denies the request, the execution reprieve would automatically be lifted. CBS News, 16 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for reprieve 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'reprieve.' 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

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

First Known Use

Verb

1596, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1552, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of reprieve was in 1552

Dictionary Entries Near reprieve

Cite this Entry

“Reprieve.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reprieve. Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

reprieve

1 of 2 verb
re·​prieve ri-ˈprēv How to pronounce reprieve (audio)
reprieved; reprieving
1
: to delay the punishment of (as a condemned prisoner)
2
: to give relief or deliverance to for a time

reprieve

2 of 2 noun
1
a
: the act of reprieving : the state of being reprieved
b
: a postponing of a prison or death sentence
2
: a temporary escape (as from pain or trouble)

Legal Definition

reprieve

1 of 2 transitive verb
re·​prieve ri-ˈprēv How to pronounce reprieve (audio)
reprieved; reprieving
: to delay the punishment of (as a condemned prisoner)

reprieve

2 of 2 noun
1
a
: 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
Etymology

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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