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

  • noun The easing of a pain, distress, or anxiety.
  • noun Something that alleviates pain, distress, or anxiety.
  • noun Aid in time of danger.
  • noun Rescue from a siege.
  • noun Public assistance.
  • noun Release from a post or duty, such as that of sentinel.
  • noun One who takes over a post or duty for another.
  • noun Something that makes a pleasant or amusing change from something tedious or unpleasant.
  • noun The projection of figures or forms from a flat background, as in sculpture, or the apparent projection of such shapes in a painting or drawing.
  • noun A work of art featuring such projection.
  • noun Geology The variations in elevation of an area of the earth's surface.
  • noun Distinction or prominence due to contrast.
  • noun Law The objective sought by a lawsuit or legal action, such as an award of monetary damages or an order requiring the other party to take a particular action.
  • noun Baseball The pitching done by a relief pitcher.
  • noun A payment made by the heir of a deceased tenant to a feudal lord for the privilege of succeeding to the tenant's estate.
  • idiom (on relief) Receiving public assistance because of need or poverty.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A portion that is elevated above the general surface; a ridge, hill, or mountain.
  • noun In mineralogy, the character of the surface of a thin section of a mineral as shown under a microscope, depending on its refractive power relative to that of the substance in which it is embedded.
  • noun The act of relieving, or the state of being relieved: the removal, in whole or in part, of any pain, oppression, or burden, so that some ease is obtained; alleviation; succor; comfort.
  • noun That which mitigates or removes pain, grief, want, or other evil.
  • noun In Great Britain, assistance given under the poor-laws to a pauper: as, to administer outdoor relief.
  • noun Release from a post of duty by a substitute or substitutes, who may act either permanently or temporarily; especially, the going off duty of a sentinel or guard whose place is supplied by another soldier.
  • noun One who relieves another, as from a post of duty; a soldier who relieves another who is on guard; collectively, a company of soldiers who relieve others who are on guard.
  • noun In sculp., arch., etc., the projection (in painting, the apparent projection) of a figure or feature from the ground or plane on which it is formed.
  • noun A work of art or decoration in relief of any of the varieties described above.
  • noun In heraldry the supposed projection of a charge from the surface of the field, represented by shading with a heavier bounding-line on the sinister side and toward the base than on the dexter Side and toward the chief.
  • noun In physical geography, the form of the surface of any part of the earth, considered in the most general way, and with special regard to differences of elevation: little used except in the name relief-map, by which is meant a geographical or geological map in which the form of the surface is expressed by elevations and depressions of the material used.
  • noun In fortification, the perpendicular height of the interior crest of the parapet above the bottom of the ditch.
  • noun Prominence or distinctness given to anything by something presenting a contrast to it, or brought into close relation with or proximity to it; a contrast.
  • noun In hunting, a note sounded on the horn on reaching home after the chase.
  • noun What is picked up; fragments left; broken meat given in alms.
  • noun In law, that which a eourt of justice awards to a suitor as redress for the grievance of which he complains.
  • noun In feudal law, a fine or composition which the heir of a tenant holding by knight's service or other tenure paid to the lord at the death of the ancestor, for the privilege of succeeding to the estate, which, on strict feudal principles, had lapsed or fallen to the lord on the death of the tenant.
  • noun Synonyms Mitigation.
  • noun Help, aid, support.

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

  • noun The act of relieving, or the state of being relieved; the removal, or partial removal, of any evil, or of anything oppressive or burdensome, by which some ease is obtained; succor; alleviation; comfort; ease; redress.
  • noun Release from a post, or from the performance of duty, by the intervention of others, by discharge, or by relay.
  • noun That which removes or lessens evil, pain, discomfort, uneasiness, etc.; that which gives succor, aid, or comfort; also, the person who relieves from performance of duty by taking the place of another; a relay.
  • noun (Feudal Law) A fine or composition which the heir of a deceased tenant paid to the lord for the privilege of taking up the estate, which, on strict feudal principles, had lapsed or fallen to the lord on the death of the tenant.
  • noun (Sculp. & Arch.) The projection of a figure above the ground or plane on which it is formed.
  • noun (Paint.) The appearance of projection given by shading, shadow, etc., to any figure.
  • noun (Fort.) The height to which works are raised above the bottom of the ditch.
  • noun (Physical Geog.) The elevations and surface undulations of a country.
  • noun a valve arranged for relieving pressure of steam, gas, or liquid; an escape valve.

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

  • noun The removal of stress or discomfort.
  • noun The feeling associated with the removal of stress or discomfort.


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

Middle English, from Old French, from relever, to relieve; see relieve. Senses 6, 7, and 8, French, from Italian rilievo; see bas-relief.


  • Pain relief is generally considered the endpoint of treatment; therefore, most physicians will avoid the use of local anesthetics. 23 Short acting general anesthetics or regional nerve blocks are sometimes used during treatment.

    Hydrofluoric Acid

  • I've always found the term relief well kind of confusing, because to me it suggests that it's going to relieve the pressure somehow and let the oil come out of these wells.

    Oil, Gas Leaking From Gulf Well

  • But Sexton found Nicks for an easy 31-yard score on fourth down with 4: 11 left to seal it, and Nicks set the receiving record with a 22-yard catch a little later from T.J. Yates, making his first appearance in relief from a broken ankle suffered in September against Virginia Tech. Newspaper Home Delivery - Subscribe Today

  • I've had a headache most of the day and finally drugged myself and now I think the pain relief is conking me out.

    every shop in cork

  • I don't want to use the term relief when it's such a gruesome case.

    CNN Transcript Sep 3, 2006

  • Clinton and McCain have both suggested the "tax vacation" as a short term relief from the high cost of gas, during the summer vacation season.

    McCain unyielding in call for gas tax relief

  • Senator Obama believes Americans need real short-term relief, which is why he has proposed a second round of stimulus with energy rebates for working families.

    Flashback: McCain Said Specter Of Terror Attack Would Help GOP Politically

  • For short term relief, I usually recommend using a rich emollient like Aquaphor for dry, reddened skin.

    Simple Skin Beauty

  • They have decided not to go this year and the relief is almost physical.

    silly newbie w/passport & transport needs camping companion

  • We're going through a bunch of what we call relief in places now, so our numbers are up about 160,000.

    CNN Transcript Dec 2, 2007


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  • It was a relief, the hunger, its refusal to negotiate, something solid to hold onto in the uncertainty. From "The Last Werewolf" by Glen Duncan.

    March 28, 2012

  • Citation at cleansed.

    December 14, 2008

  • "The new Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Mutambara, said the compromise agreement was a victory for Zimbabwe.

    The BBC's George Alagiah in Harare says that the mood among ordinary Zimbabweans is one of relief rather than outright jubilation. People just want to get on with their lives."

    - 'Zimbabwe rivals in historic pact', BBC website, 15 Sep 2008.

    September 15, 2008