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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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

The findings offer some political affirmation for the Democratic governor who, after calling the death penalty immoral and unjust, stirred up controversy in March by issuing temporary reprieves to more than 700 inmates on California’s death row. Phil Willon, latimes.com, "Poll finds Californians support the death penalty — and Newsom’s moratorium on executions," 17 June 2019 The findings offer some political affirmation for the Democratic governor who, after calling the death penalty immoral and unjust, stirred up controversy in March by issuing temporary reprieves to more than 700 inmates on California’s death row. Phil Willon, The Mercury News, "California poll: Keep the death penalty, limit executions," 17 June 2019 Even its poetry shivered with frosted laments for a reprieve or, more cheerfully, merciful oblivion: Just God, whence will things go With these times of cold? Nathaniel Rich, Harper's magazine, "Ruina Mundi," 10 May 2019 But Trump issued a reprieve, perhaps partly because U.S. tech companies, major suppliers to ZTE, would also have been scorched. Rob Gillies, The Seattle Times, "Trump comments upend US approach to Huawei, trade talks," 12 Dec. 2018 The whole thing is a bit too tight — there’s no room to play, or moments of reprieve to lure you into a false sense of security before a jump scare. Katie Walsh, kansascity, "In ‘Breaking In,’ Gabrielle Union is one fierce mama | The Kansas City Star," 10 May 2018 Renters in metro Phoenix are finally getting a bit of a reprieve. azcentral, "AZ Memo: McCain's POW release started his path to politics; Mesa to consider utility rate increases; Credit Union taps into woman's account," 2 Apr. 2018 After the Ohio prisons director stopped the execution, Republican Gov. John Kasich issued a reprieve and rescheduled the execution for June 2019. Eric Heisig, cleveland.com, "Cleveland Heights settles with family of Ralkina Jones, who died in jail cell in 2015," 23 Jan. 2018 Because of those nagging concerns, Merrill Kelly’s six-inning performance came as a reprieve. Jenna Ortiz, azcentral, "Merrill Kelly picks up Diamondbacks' struggling pitching staff; Ketel Marte, Jake Lamb approach returns," 23 June 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.

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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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Dictionary Entries near reprieve

repressurize

reprice

reprieval

reprieve

reprimand

reprint

reprinter

Statistics for reprieve

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for reprieve

The first known use of reprieve was in 1552

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More Definitions for reprieve

reprieve

verb

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

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.

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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