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re·​spite ˈre-spət How to pronounce respite (audio)
 also  ri-ˈspīt,
 British usually  ˈre-ˌspīt
: a period of temporary delay
: an interval of rest or relief


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respited; respiting

transitive verb

: to grant a temporary period of relief to : grant a respite to


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: providing or being temporary care in relief of a primary caregiver
respite care
a respite worker

Did you know?

Respite Has Latin Roots

Respite is first known to have been used at the turn of the 14th century to refer to a delay or extension asked for or granted for a specific reason—to give someone time to deliberate on a proposal, for example. Such a respite offered an opportunity for the kind of consideration inherent in the word's etymology. Respite traces from the Latin term respectus (also the source of English's respect), which comes from respicere, a verb with both concrete and abstract meanings: "to turn around to look at" or "to regard." Within a few decades of its earliest known use, English speakers had granted respite the sense we use most often today—"a welcome break."

Examples of respite in a Sentence

Noun But in the middle of each semester there came a short respite, separate from the traditional holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Martha Southgate, The Fall of Rome, 2002
Six years more of toil they had to face before they could expect the least respite, the cessation of the payments upon the house … Upton Sinclair, The Jungle, 1906
The laborer's day ends with the going down of the sun … but his employer, who speculates from month to month, has no respite from one end of the year to the other. Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854
The bad weather has continued without respite.
Recent Examples on the Web
But, for everyone who lived through it, this was a relentless thirty-one-day emergency, with no respite. Carolyn Kormann, The New Yorker, 6 Sep. 2023 Sometimes their only respite is a slow-moving fan run by a single solar panel - which only works during the day. Annie Gowen, Niko Kommenda and Saiyna Bashir, Anchorage Daily News, 5 Sep. 2023 An intermission tie at 21-21 allowed for a respite as both teams looked to regroup in the locker room. Ledeai, The Courier-Journal, 19 Aug. 2023 An intermission tie at 7-7 allowed for a respite as both teams looked to regroup in the locker room. Indy Star Sports, The Indianapolis Star, 19 Aug. 2023 Constitution Gardens was intended as a pastoral respite from the formality of the more rectilinear Mall, on land that was until 1971 occupied by temporary buildings that served the military during World Wars I and II. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, 19 Aug. 2023 An intermission tie at 6-6 allowed for a respite as both teams looked to regroup in the locker room. Ledeai, Journal Sentinel, 19 Aug. 2023 The nonprofit offers free and low-cost resources, including legal assistance, counseling, case management and respite care. Linda McIntosh, San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Aug. 2023 Church was an obligatory respite, if in practice, a little boring. Sarah Stankorb, ELLE, 17 Aug. 2023
Grant yourself respite from the burdens of overwork and everyday fatigue with the remarkable benefits of ashwagandha. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 12 June 2023 There is no longer respite from typhoon season in the western North Pacific, either. Porter Fox, New York Times, 9 May 2023 There are several elegant lodging options in Virginia Beach, but the Barclay Cottage Bed and Breakfast is an affordable, adults-only respite right around the corner from the beach. Travel + Leisure Editors, Travel + Leisure, 28 Apr. 2023 Statewide, the fund gave grants to 175 organizations ranging from parental education, home visiting, fatherhood, respite care and mentoring. Lee Roop |, al, 17 Feb. 2023 But about half come to respite care due to infections, lung issues or wound care — injuries potentially linked to cold weather exposure or the aftermath of frostbite, said Molly Cornish, a spokesperson for the organization. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, 29 Dec. 2022 In California cities, the urban canopy is a critical piece of environmental infrastructure, cooling sidewalks, cleansing air, creating wildlife habitat and giving people of all socioeconomic backgrounds respite from intensifying heat waves. Jill Cowan, New York Times, 6 Jan. 2023 Still, the outlook for the world’s largest economy may offer respite. Fortune, 2 Jan. 2023 In 2009, Wayside bought the 12-story Hotel Louisville at a foreclosure auction to provide shelter, transitional housing, and respite for men, women and veterans. Jason Gonzalez, The Courier-Journal, 18 Nov. 2022
In Nevada’s Clark County, local officials are operating more than 35 cooling centers that offer people respite from the heat. Denise Chow, NBC News, 13 July 2023 His reappearance at a charity event—not in custody or jail—gave Alibaba’s investors respite, and its stock, a boost. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz, 17 Feb. 2023 How is respite care provided when my caregiver needs a break? Ava Kofman, ProPublica, 6 Dec. 2022 The responses to those surveys — which overwhelmingly asked for emergency financial assistance — led to the organization launching its respite response program earlier this year, and now the new holiday relief effort. San Diego Union-Tribune, 28 Nov. 2020 The Care Quality Commission, which regulates residential and respite care of the elderly and other vulnerable people, has reported 6,391 deaths related to COVID-19 in nursing homes from April 10 to May 1. NBC News, 27 Apr. 2020 Those services include respite care, housekeeping, home delivered meals, personal emergency response plans, transportation, adult day care, special medical equipment or supplies, caregiver training and home health aide services. USA TODAY, 6 Feb. 2020 Breed and the supervisors have also been at odds over a controversial proposal by the Department of Public Health to transform a number of long-term treatment beds at SF General Hospital into temporary respite spots. Dominic Fracassa,, 25 Sep. 2019 Pimentel oversees the ever-relocating Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley respite center in this town, where asylum-seekers are transported after their release from detention at Border Patrol facilities. Aaron Cantú, The New Republic, 12 Sep. 2019 See More

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

Word History


Noun, Verb, and Adjective

Middle English respit, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin respectus, from Latin, act of looking back — more at respect

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1978, in the meaning defined above

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


Dictionary Entries Near respite

Cite this Entry

“Respite.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


 also  ri-ˈspīt
: a short delay : postponement
: a period of rest or relief

Legal Definition


in the civil law of Louisiana : a judicially approved or enforced agreement that provides a debtor with time or a delay for the payment of creditors
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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