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


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

Of course, the respite may be short-lived: With one more qualifying poll, Mr. Steyer will make the October debate stage, likely making that a two-night affair. New York Times, "Democratic Candidates Jostle, and Gripe, as Debates Winnow the Field," 28 Aug. 2019 And this recent stretch of success happened without Ramon Laureano’s dynamic playmaking and with typically-reliable Khris Davis in a painfully prolonged slump (with some respites like Wednesday night’s home run off J.A. Happ). Shayna Rubin, The Mercury News, "How these plucky A’s have seized the big moment against baseball’s best," 22 Aug. 2019 Yet the temporary respite from clashes that escalated steadily in July risks being thrown into the wind as the city’s leader, Carrie Lam, stood steadfast in refusing to make any concrete form of concession to the protest’s key demands. Mary Hui, Quartz, "Hong Kong’s moment of calm is in danger of being squandered," 20 Aug. 2019 In the end, a measure of balance is restored, but Kent is too honest to suggest this respite will be anything but temporary. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: ‘The Nightingale’ is a brilliant, horrifying tale of revenge," 15 Aug. 2019 After a one-day respite, panic has reignited over trade. Anneken Tappe, CNN, "Dow set to tumble 300 points on a scary sign from the bond market," 7 Aug. 2019 Lost for more than a century and then rediscovered just before World War I, the tunnels contained hundreds of rooms and two dozen galleries that served as an important respite for troops on the Western Front during the war. Meghan Miner Murray, National Geographic, "9 of Europe’s underground marvels," 2 Aug. 2019 The respite comes in the middle of an abnormally long slump. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Astros' Alex Bregman gets rare day off," 28 July 2019 That’s because parental-leave policies bring attention to the special needs of working parents, and especially mothers, and erroneously imply that non-parents require less downtime or respite. Lila Maclellan, Quartz at Work, "It isn’t just new parents who deserve paid leave," 25 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Even in its mixed family-cruise lines, the company offers separate areas for adults-only pools, lounges and nightclubs to offer parents respite from their active children. Sarah Min, CBS News, "Childless millennials should be banned from Disney World, tired mom rants," 29 July 2019 Wicker lounges across the lush lawn offer respite with uninterrupted sea views and unrivaled sunsets. Danica Farley, Orange County Register, "A whale of a time in Nantucket," 17 July 2019 Vouchers are provided as a subsidy so that San Diego County contributes 50 percent to respite expenses. Ramona Sentinel, "Adult center accepts caregiver respite vouchers," 16 July 2019 Jann-Fiete Arp will offer respite in Bayern Munich's less important matches, but the Poland international will still be needed to carry the club through the latter stages of the Champions League., "Robert Lewandowski: Why the Pole's New Contract Will Be the Catalyst for Bayern Munich's UCL Dream," 10 July 2019 The 1,200-square-foot bakery is cozy with four cafe tables that grant patrons respite while enjoying their coffee and muffin while reading the paper. Georgann Yara, azcentral, "These Phoenix hair stylists were tired of the vacant space next to their salon. So they opened a bakery," 20 June 2019 What’s more, Dinwiddie’s excellent marks as the pick-and-roll ball-handler and as an isolation scorer would provide Phoenix with efficient primary offense on certain possessions, giving Booker brief respites when needed. Jeremy Cluff, azcentral, "Spencer Dinwiddie trade rumors: Phoenix Suns, Brooklyn Nets trade speculation heats up," 4 June 2019 For the next six months, weekly visits from nurses and aides gave my sister respite and helped us stay ahead of skin and bowel issues that had also brought us to ERs. Jeanne Erdmann,, "At 100, my mom had dementia and needed hospice care. Getting it was nearly impossible.," 8 May 2018 The clergy met them at a Catholic Charities respite center in McAllen, Texas. Molly Hennessy-fiske,, "Trump ended separating families. But what's next?," 21 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 The comfy seats of our pickup were a welcome respite post-headliner performances. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Everything You Need to Know Before Attending a Country Music Festival," 1 June 2018 The Alzheimer’s Association provides tips on caregiving, how to get respite care and referrals for services. Michele Parente,, "Resources for dementia caregivers," 27 Apr. 2018 Pomeroy, which already operates licensed overnight respite programs elsewhere with staff on duty seven days a week, has begun the process of applying for new licensing at 2626 Fulton, Cohen said. Carolyne Zinko, San Francisco Chronicle, "Troubled San Francisco charity selling off goods to fund new group home," 6 Mar. 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


13th 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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Statistics for respite

Last Updated

2 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for respite

The first known use of respite was in the 13th century

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on respite

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with respite

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for respite

Spanish Central: Translation of respite

Nglish: Translation of respite for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of respite for Arabic Speakers

Comments on respite

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


concealment of treason or felony

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