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

  • transitive v. To recover ownership of by paying a specified sum.
  • transitive v. To pay off (a promissory note, for example).
  • transitive v. To turn in (coupons, for example) and receive something in exchange.
  • transitive v. To fulfill (a pledge, for example).
  • transitive v. To convert into cash: redeem stocks.
  • transitive v. To set free; rescue or ransom.
  • transitive v. To save from a state of sinfulness and its consequences. See Synonyms at save1.
  • transitive v. To make up for: The low price of the clothes dryer redeems its lack of special features.
  • transitive v. To restore the honor, worth, or reputation of: You botched the last job but can redeem yourself on this one.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To purchase back; to regain possession of by payment of a stipulated price; to repurchase.
  • transitive v.
  • transitive v. To recall, as an estate, or to regain, as mortgaged property, by paying what may be due by force of the mortgage.
  • transitive v. 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 v. 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 v. Hence, to rescue and deliver from the bondage of sin and the penalties of God's violated law.
  • transitive v. To make good by performing fully; to fulfill
  • transitive v. To pay the penalty of; to make amends for; to serve as an equivalent or offset for; to atone for; to compensate.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

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

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


Middle English redemen, from Old French redimer, from Latin redimere : re-, red-, re- + emere, to buy; see em- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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"). (Wiktionary)



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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