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

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: Noun After a brief respite to start the week, the market resumed its descent on Tuesday. Larry Edelman,, 24 May 2022 Model Josephine Skriver embodied the spirit (and fun!) of change, parting ways with about six inches of her honeyed brunette in favor of a chic crop, while Lou Doillon's baby bump (and short cherried manicure) enjoyed a Roman respite. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, 22 May 2022 The Detroit Tigers’ 2022 season of misery received a brief respite Friday night, as their offense scored four runs against the Baltimore Orioles and held on for a two-run victory. Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press, 15 May 2022 Wittman points out that Well Spouse holds several respite events throughout the year. Kristine Gill, Fortune, 11 May 2022 Those needing a respite after hours or days of travel were steered to resting rooms and a nursery. Los Angeles Times, 11 May 2022 And Chinese firms, which have little choice but to endure, will welcome the political respite. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 10 May 2022 Under the glare of the desert sun, a tiny food trailer parked in Glendale offers families a refreshing respite. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, The Arizona Republic, 29 Apr. 2022 Then take respite in activities that can fully absorb your attention and emotionally recharge you. Arash Javanbakht, The Conversation, 28 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb For now, Roland Moody goes to respite care a couple of times a week outside of the home, giving his wife time to run errands. Shelia Poole, ajc, 21 Mar. 2022 Which of course, leads to a question: Solace and respite for whom? Aarian Marshall, Wired, 8 Jan. 2022 Some individuals who attend day programs have had to stay home because there isn’t enough staff, and admissions to respite care have been closed. Katie Johnston,, 8 Jan. 2022 There were always assignments to complete even while the options for a respite - a lunch break at school with peers, time with friends at all - had been taken away. Paulina Firozi, Anchorage Daily News, 19 Dec. 2021 The collaboration offers inspiration and respite through art made by local artists and employees to Summit County Courthouse visitors. Megan Becka, cleveland, 10 Dec. 2021 That could be renting a cabin in an area with no cellular service, tickets to a play, a winter hike and a picnic — anything that gives us respite from our inevitable return to screens. New York Times, 24 Nov. 2021 Gudaitis noted that those who try to survive on the streets — the same group that turns to respite shelters in winter — are less likely to be vaccinated, let alone have proof on hand. Luke Cregan, Curbed, 20 Nov. 2021 The silence gives me respite from my cell phone, the news, my work. Jessica Ciencin Henriquez, Kristin Van Ogtrop,, 29 Sep. 2021 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, 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 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,, 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, 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,, 30 Aug. 2019 See More

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

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

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Last Updated

27 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Respite.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for respite


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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