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 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 Death sentences in China are almost always commuted to life in prison after the reprieve. Fox News, "China sentences fentanyl trafficker to death, others up to life in prison after US tip in drug case," 8 Nov. 2019 The reason given for the reprieves is the state’s continuing problems with finding a pharmaceutical company willing to sell drugs for use in executions. Jeremy Pelzer, cleveland, "Ohio won’t hold any executions in 2019 as Gov. Mike DeWine issues more reprieves," 30 Oct. 2019 Spring Branch ISD homeowners are getting a tax reprieve courtesy of the district’s board of trustees. Roy Kent, Houston Chronicle, "Spring Branch ISD adopts 5 percent tax rate reduction," 29 Oct. 2019 Her status as the top freshman in the country last season was not enough to earn Kentucky guard Rhyne Howard a reprieve some from playful teasing from her coach on the USA U-19 World Cup team this summer. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "It's tough to stop a versatile player. Kentucky is hoping that helps star Rhyne Howard," 25 Oct. 2019 However, the rule was poorly written, the very politicians who originally championed it have acknowledged, and the temporary reprieve was accidentally made permanent on some wells. Hiroko Tabuchi, New York Times, "Government Loophole Gave Oil Companies $18 Billion Windfall," 24 Oct. 2019 Casablanca rapper Issam, who recently made waves signing the largest hip-hop record deal ever for an Arab artist, represented the former; his set was Arab Trap madness, and a welcome sonic reprieve from the steady diet of house and techno. Nicolas Stecher, Billboard, "Morocco's Moga Festival Shines Bright With Blond:ish, Kenny Dope and Local Roots," 22 Oct. 2019 Purdue Pharma and its mega-rich owners, the Sackler family, are also involved in the litigation but have a temporary reprieve from the cases in the wake of Purdue filing for bankruptcy. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "After flooding US with opioids, industry giants offer $50 billion settlement," 17 Oct. 2019 Growing wildfires such as the Decker fire could receive a slight reprieve in conditions with a lower fire danger expected in the foothills and across the plains because of lower winds, according to the weather service. Saja Hindi, The Denver Post, "Denver weather: Dry, cooler fall temperatures forecast Tuesday," 15 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.

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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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Statistics for reprieve

Last Updated

13 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for reprieve

The first known use of reprieve was in 1552

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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

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