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



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 This win serves as something of a respite for a Sooners football program looking to avoid a third straight loss. Sam Blum, Dallas News, "Oklahoma outlasts Texas in one of the wildest games in Red River Showdown history," 10 Oct. 2020 Black gum, American beech and other deciduous trees line the trail, offering some respite from the sun. New York Times, "Leaf Peeping Is Not Canceled: 6 Drives and Hikes to Try This Fall," 1 Oct. 2020 The comments from Biden would seem to show little sign of respite for Lukashenko, 66, who is now reliant on his security forces and his ally Russia to maintain his 26-year grip on power. NBC News, "Joe Biden accuses Donald Trump of silence on 'dictator' Lukashenko in Belarus," 26 Sep. 2020 The blank pages, the list, the trysts for which some people depart the queue—as a kind of respite from waiting—account for much of the humor in this hilarious book. Peter Toohey, WSJ, "Five Best: Peter Toohey on Waiting," 25 Sep. 2020 In addition to its central office, counseling center, Family Resource Center and Teen Center in West Hartford, the Bridge also offers counseling centers in Avon and Rockville and short term assessment and respite homes in and around Hartford County., "Community News For The Windsor Edition," 24 Sep. 2020 Hospitalization numbers in Montgomery County are at their lowest rates, giving health care workers something of a respite. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Hemingway bar, abandoned dog, blueberry trouble: News from around our 50 states," 22 Sep. 2020 More 100-plus temperatures are in the forecast for interior areas through mid-week, though Sunday’s clouds and moisture have provided some respite. Tatiana Sanchez,, "Hot, stormy weather expected to linger in Bay Area for days," 16 Aug. 2020 The respite comes after last week brought surging daily case counts. oregonlive, "Coronavirus in Oregon: No deaths and 181 new cases; weekly positivity rate 6.3%," 29 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Limiting visitors Mariposa Point of Surprise, which offers assisted living and respite care near Bell Road and Bullard Avenue, began limiting visitors to essential medical professionals and vendors on Monday. Joshua Bowling, azcentral, "Some Phoenix area nursing homes restrict even family visitors to protect the elderly from coronavirus," 17 Mar. 2020 Backs to the wall Those 15 minutes respite changed very little and Atleti's players were back out in the second half and immediately had their backs to the wall. Matias Grez, CNN, "Atletico Madrid stuns Liverpool at Anfield to dump holder out of the Champions League," 11 Mar. 2020 Priorities of the act include improving financial security and workplace issues for families, respite care options, and family planning throughout the U.S. NBC News, "Caregiving, or career? The choice no woman should have to make," 29 Jan. 2020 Gorden said the Boyds are key in providing respite the families need. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "For this Milwaukee Santa Claus, every visit is a bring your family to work day," 13 Dec. 2019 Anika, Susan and Angela keep a wish list: volunteers, books, clothes, diapers, car seats, birthday parties for foster children, respite care to give foster parents a break. Arizona Republic, "'What good am I?': Foster mom saw a system so broken she was ready to give up. Instead, she decided to fix it," 27 Nov. 2019 In addition to those receiving waivers, about 2,000 individuals on the planning list receive family support dollars, which can be used to defray the costs of everything from medical equipment to clothing and respite services., "Why stories of people with developmental disabilities matter," 2 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective 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 In addition to visiting the ORR facility, the Oregon Democrat toured a border processing center in McAllen, Texas, and a respite center run by the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Maya Rhodan, Time, "Sen. Jeff Merkley: 'Zero Tolerance' Refugee Policy Is Actually 'Zero Humanity'," 4 June 2018

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

17 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Respite.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for respite


How to pronounce respite (audio)

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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