re·​spite | \ ˈre-spət How to pronounce respite (audio) also ri-ˈspīt, British usually ˈre-ˌspīt \

Definition of respite

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a period of temporary delay
2 : an interval of rest or relief


respited; respiting

Definition of respite (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to grant a temporary period of relief to : grant a respite to
2 : put off, delay



Definition of respite (Entry 3 of 3)

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

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Respite Has Latin Roots


Originally, beginning in the late 13th century, a respite was 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, which comes from a verb meaning, both literally and figuratively, "to turn around to look at" or "to regard." By the 14th century, we 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun With the NBFCs facing a double whammy of loss in market share and weakening of asset quality, there seems to be no respite in sight for them anytime soon. Prathamesh Mulye, Quartz, "Indians’ inability to repay their loans is adding to shadow bankers’ woes," 15 Mar. 2021 The more difficult problem is that while many people in Texas experienced the pandemic in waves, there’s been no respite for front-line health care providers. NBC News, "Texas doctors say Gov. Greg Abbott's decision to scrap mask mandate could result in another Covid-19 surge," 3 Mar. 2021 There is history in Black churches as safe places for congregants, going back to the days of slavery, when worship was the only respite from backbreaking work, and later, when Blacks were banned from white churches. Amanda Milkovits,, "Bishop Jeffery Williams: ‘I preach better is coming eventually’," 25 Feb. 2021 There appears to be little respite on the horizon: The International Monetary Fund has projected a 10.3 percent decline in the economy in the 2020–21 fiscal year. Snigdha Poonam, The Atlantic, "The People Profiting Off the Pandemic in India," 16 Jan. 2021 Video games have been a welcome respite during this time of social distancing. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "Best of CES 2021: The Most Promising and Exciting Tech This Year," 15 Jan. 2021 The conclusion most folks have come to is that sea chanteys are a respite. Angela Watercutter, Wired, "Why TikTok (and Everyone Else) Is Singing Sea Chanteys," 14 Jan. 2021 People have had to work harder to find respite during the pandemic. Anne Marie Chaker, WSJ, "The One Thing That Got Me Through the Pandemic Year," 16 Mar. 2021 Decks with pools and hot tubs provide the perfect respite after a day of adventure, while bespoke material palettes adorn the interiors. San Francisco Chronicle, "Getaway: Danzante Bay offers luxurious real estate, outdoor adventures," 8 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb This might mean having the option of working from home, as well as a communal area for connection, and even respite. Sally Percy, Forbes, "Busted: Four Big Leadership Myths About Stress," 6 Apr. 2021 Most of this path lies within Orlando’s boundaries, while the section through shady Lake Baldwin Park belongs to Winter Park and provides trail users respite from the sun. Patrick Connolly,, "10 Orlando-area hikes to enjoy before it gets too hot," 16 Mar. 2021 Schools offer kids respite from troubled families and provide opportunities for staffers to spot signs of abuse, said Fredrick Blocton, chairman of 180 Degrees' board. Katy Read, Star Tribune, "COVID may increase youth homelessness across Twin Cities metro," 16 Feb. 2021 The division sent nurses, speech therapists and respite workers to assist families with the responsibilities of caring 24/7 for relatives with autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and intellectual disabilities. State Of Denial, ProPublica, "People with Developmental Disabilities Were Promised Help. Instead, They Face Delays and Denials.," 6 Nov. 2020 Over the past months, my headphones have given me respite from my lovely boyfriend’s work calls and clanging family members in the kitchen (my workspace). Rachel Besser, Vogue, "Feels Like A Steal: Bring Joy To Your Day With These Designer Headphones," 6 Nov. 2020 There's another hallmark of luxury that's maybe more important to customers than excessive thrust: respite from the noise of the world. Annie White, Car and Driver, "Tested: 2021 Genesis GV80 3.5T Delivers Guilt-Free Opulence," 22 Oct. 2020 Unlike the tyranny of color coding and social-media moments, the new trend in personal libraries concerns what’s on the inside: ideas, inspiration, and respite from the rest of the world. Sheila Marikar, ELLE Decor, "The Home Library Is Now the Place to Be—and Take Zoom Meetings From," 7 Aug. 2020 Some camps for kids with physical or emotional challenges are the only respite their caregivers get all year. Lisa Selin Davis, CNN, "Go online or cancel? Summer camps try to adapt to a pandemic," 7 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective 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, "Foundations team up to offer emergency aid to military caregivers this holiday season," 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, "U.K.'s coronavirus death toll could be highest in Europe, new figures suggest," 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, "‘Bag Full of Drugs,’ kiwiberries, retiring bulldog: News from around our 50 states," 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,, "Mayor pulls out of talks on San Francisco mental health overhaul," 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, "Inside Trump’s Border Chaos," 12 Sep. 2019 The legislation, from Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Matt Haney, takes aim at the department’s decision to transform a number of unused beds at the Adult Residential Facility into temporary respite spots. Trisha Thadani,, "City should fill unused treatment beds on SF General’s campus ASAP, says new legislation," 10 Sep. 2019 The Angels were offered more temporary respite Saturday night, coming from behind from to beat the Boston Red Sox 10-4 in front of 43,036 at Angel Stadium. Los Angeles Times, "Mike Trout calls latest Tyler Skaggs news ‘tough'; Angels defeat Red Sox," 31 Aug. 2019 The foundation also funds respite homes, places where families can take a vacation from treatment, or after-cancer treatment, on the mountains and beaches of Maryland, Delaware and North Carolina, according to Poisal. Jon Kelvey,, "Fallen Manchester sailor remembered with fundraising event, commemorative beer from Monument City Brewing," 30 Aug. 2019

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1978, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for respite

Noun, Verb, and Adjective

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

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Time Traveler for respite

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for respite

Last Updated

9 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Respite.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for respite



English Language Learners Definition of respite

: a short period of time when you are able to stop doing something that is difficult or unpleasant or when something difficult or unpleasant stops or is delayed


res·​pite | \ ˈre-spət How to pronounce respite (audio) \

Kids Definition of respite

1 : a short delay
2 : a period of rest or relief Matthias was glad of the brief respite after all the excitement.— Brian Jacques, Redwall


res·​pite | \ ˈres-pət, ri-ˈspīt How to pronounce respite (audio) \

Legal Definition of respite

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

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