res·​cue ˈre-(ˌ)skyü How to pronounce rescue (audio)
rescued; rescuing

transitive verb

: to free from confinement, danger, or evil : save, deliver
They were rescued from the burning building by firefighters.
… a volunteer group that rescues and nurtures injured and orphaned wildlife …Australian Geographic
(figurative) … the acanthus leaf into which the light fixture on the hall ceiling is set was rescued from a curbside trash heap.Barbara Deane
: such as
: to take (someone, such as a prisoner) forcibly from custody
: to recover (something, such as a prize) by force
: to deliver (a place under siege) by armed force
rescuable adjective
rescue noun
Historians are wary of the notion that, at a critical point in history, a heroic figure, galloping to the rescue, snatches victory from the jaws of defeat … James MacGregor Burns
rescuer noun
Choose the Right Synonym for rescue

rescue, deliver, redeem, ransom, reclaim, save mean to set free from confinement or danger.

rescue implies freeing from imminent danger by prompt or vigorous action.

rescued the crew of a sinking ship

deliver implies release usually of a person from confinement, temptation, slavery, or suffering.

delivered his people from bondage

redeem implies releasing from bondage or penalties by giving what is demanded or necessary.

job training designed to redeem school dropouts from chronic unemployment

ransom specifically applies to buying out of captivity.

tried to ransom the kidnap victim

reclaim suggests a bringing back to a former state or condition of someone or something abandoned or debased.

reclaimed long-abandoned farms

save may replace any of the foregoing terms; it may further imply a preserving or maintaining for usefulness or continued existence.

an operation that saved my life

Examples of rescue in a Sentence

The survivors were rescued by the Coast Guard. an all-out effort to rescue a beached whale
Recent Examples on the Web Katniss has been rescued and whisked away by the rebels in District 13, Peeta has been captured by Snow and the rebellion is officially beginning. Meredith G. White, The Arizona Republic, 6 July 2024 With the help of organizations like American Humane, communities and pet parents can be better prepared for an emergency, reduce the number of pets lost, and increase the number of pets rescued and reunited with their owners. Tom Edling and Richard Goldstein, Orlando Sentinel, 5 July 2024 It was seized by Italian authorities following an attempt to rescue 37 migrants from the central Mediterranean sea. Daniel Cassady,, 3 July 2024 More than 170 endangered runaways have been found and been rescued as part of an operation conduced by the U.S. Marshals Service and other agencies. Mike Snider, USA TODAY, 2 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for rescue 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'rescue.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English rescouen, rescuen, from Anglo-French rescure, from re- + escure to shake off, from Latin excutere, from ex- + quatere to shake

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of rescue was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near rescue

Cite this Entry

“Rescue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


res·​cue ˈres-kyü How to pronounce rescue (audio)
rescued; rescuing
: to free from danger or evil : save
rescue noun
rescuer noun

More from Merriam-Webster on rescue

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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