res·​cue | \ˈre-(ˌ)skyü \
rescued; rescuing

Definition of rescue 

transitive verb

: to free from confinement, danger, or evil : save, deliver: such as

a : to take (someone, such as a prisoner) forcibly from custody

b : to recover (something, such as a prize) by force

c : to deliver (a place under siege) by armed force

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Other Words from rescue

rescuable \ˈre-​(ˌ)skyü-​ə-​bəl \ adjective
rescue noun
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

The spur of donations followed a house fire in January, from which responders rescued 15 of the 17 dogs inside, the outlet said. Elizabeth Zwirz, Fox News, "Michigan fire department receives hundreds of donated pet oxygen masks," 2 Oct. 2018 How to Survive a Rip Current Often triggered by sandbar breaks (as happened in Panama City), rip currents are responsible for over 80% of lifeguard rescues at beaches every year, according to the U.S. Lifesaving Association. Jonathan Small, Good Housekeeping, "My Family Almost Drowned. Then, 50 Strangers Stepped In and Saved Us.," 16 July 2018 Of the children rescued, three — a 9-year-old girl, a 13-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl — were known victims. NBC News, "Cheap tech and widespread internet access fuel rise in cybersex trafficking," 30 June 2018 Local volunteers tried to rescue them, then divers from the U.S. Navy and the National Speleological Society came to help, according to news reports from that time. Lindsey Bever, ajc, "The dramatic and tragic rescue of explorers trapped in a cave — 53 years ago in America," 10 July 2018 One of the most prominent examples was when Wells Fargo bought Wachovia to rescue it from potential collapse in 2008. Deon Roberts And Hannah Lang, charlotteobserver, "Charlotte's losing 'a little bit of the luster.' Just one bank has its HQ here now.," 2 July 2018 Ironically, part of the logic of this treatment was the sense that the fairies cared enough about their offspring to rescue them from such abuses and restore one’s child in the process. Longreads, "Fairy Scapegoats: A History of the Persecution of Changeling Children," 9 June 2018 Maybe she was rescued and is lying in a hospital bed somewhere. Kelli Kennedy, The Seattle Times, "In Florida, families seeking the missing amid storm damage," 15 Oct. 2018 An Indonesian teenager has been rescued from the ocean after spending 49 days adrift at sea. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Indonesian Teenager Rescued After 49 Days Adrift At Sea," 24 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rescue.' 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 rescue

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for rescue

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

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Statistics for rescue

Last Updated

14 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rescue

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

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More Definitions for rescue



English Language Learners Definition of rescue

: to save (someone or something) from danger or harm


res·​cue | \ˈre-skyü \
rescued; rescuing

Kids Definition of rescue

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to free from danger : save The family's dog was rescued from the fire.

Other Words from rescue

rescuer noun



Kids Definition of rescue (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of freeing someone or something from danger

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More from Merriam-Webster on rescue

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rescue

Spanish Central: Translation of rescue

Nglish: Translation of rescue for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rescue for Arabic Speakers

Comments on rescue

What made you want to look up rescue? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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