from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To recover ownership of by paying a specified sum.
  • transitive verb To pay off (a promissory note, for example).
  • transitive verb To turn in (coupons, for example) and receive something in exchange.
  • transitive verb To convert into cash.
  • transitive verb To fulfill (a pledge, for example).
  • transitive verb To set free, as from slavery or kidnapping, by providing money or other compensation.
  • transitive verb To save (a person or soul) from a state of sinfulness and its consequences. synonym: save.
  • transitive verb To restore the honor, worth, or reputation of.
  • transitive verb To atone for (an error or mistake).
  • transitive verb To serve as compensation for; make up for.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To buy back; recover by purchase; repurchase.
  • Specifically— In law, to recover or disencumber, as mortgaged property, by payment of what is due upon the mortgage.
  • In com., to receive back by paying the obligation, as a promissory note, bond, or any other evidence of debt given by a corporation, company, or individual.
  • To ransom, release, or liberate from captivity or bondage, or from any obligation or liability to suffer or be forfeited, by paying an equivalent: as, to redeem prisoners, captured goods, or pledges.
  • To rescue; deliver; save, in general.
  • In theology, to deliver from sin and spiritual death by means of a sacrifice offered for the sinner. See redemption .
  • To perform or fulfil, as a promise; make good by performance: as, to redeem an obligation.
  • To make amends for; atone for; compensate for.
  • To improve, or employ to the best advantage.
  • To restore; revive.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To purchase back; to regain possession of by payment of a stipulated price; to repurchase.
  • transitive verb (Law) To recall, as an estate, or to regain, as mortgaged property, by paying what may be due by force of the mortgage.
  • transitive verb (Com.) To regain by performing the obligation or condition stated; to discharge the obligation mentioned in, as a promissory note, bond, or other evidence of debt.
  • transitive verb To ransom, liberate, or rescue from captivity or bondage, or from any obligation or liability to suffer or to be forfeited, by paying a price or ransom; to ransom; to rescue; to recover.
  • transitive verb (Theol.) Hence, to rescue and deliver from the bondage of sin and the penalties of God's violated law.
  • transitive verb To make good by performing fully; to fulfill
  • transitive verb To pay the penalty of; to make amends for; to serve as an equivalent or offset for; to atone for; to compensate.
  • transitive verb to make the best use of it.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive To recover ownership of something by paying a sum.
  • verb transitive To liberate by payment of a ransom.
  • verb transitive To set free by force.
  • verb transitive To save, rescue
  • verb transitive To clear, release from debt or blame
  • verb transitive To expiate, atone (for ...)
  • verb finance (transitive) To convert (some bond or security) into cash
  • verb transitive To save from a state of sin (and from its consequences).
  • verb transitive To repair, restore
  • verb transitive To reform, change (for the better)
  • verb transitive To restore the reputation or honour of oneself or something.
  • verb archaic (transitive) To reclaim

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb restore the honor or worth of
  • verb exchange or buy back for money; under threat
  • verb convert into cash; of commercial papers
  • verb pay off (loans or promissory notes)
  • verb to turn in (vouchers or coupons) and receive something in exchange
  • verb save from sins


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English redemen, from Old French redimer, from Latin redimere : re-, red-, re- + emere, to buy; see em- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Recorded since c.1425, from Middle English redemen, modified from Middle English redemer, redimer, from Latin redimō ("release; obviate; atone for"), itself from re- ("back; again") + emō ("buy; gain, take, procure").


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  • So Heav'nly love shall outdoo Hellish hate,

    Giving to death, and dying to redeeme,

    So dearly to redeem what Hellish hate

    So easily destroy'd, and still destroyes ...

    Milton, Paradise Lost III

    December 18, 2006