Definitions

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

  • transitive verb To cause a lessening or alleviation of.
  • transitive verb To make less tedious, monotonous, or unpleasant.
  • transitive verb To free from pain, anxiety, or distress.
  • transitive verb To furnish assistance or aid to.
  • transitive verb To rescue from siege.
  • transitive verb To release (a person) from an obligation, restriction, or burden.
  • transitive verb To free from a specified duty by providing or acting as a substitute.
  • transitive verb Baseball To enter the game as a relief pitcher after (another pitcher).
  • transitive verb Informal To rob or deprive.
  • transitive verb Archaic To make prominent or effective by contrast; set off.
  • idiom (relieve (oneself)) To urinate or defecate.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To lift up; set up a second time; hence, to collect; assemble.
  • To remove, wholly or partially, as anything that depresses, weighs down, pains, oppresses, etc.; mitigate; alleviate; lessen.
  • To free, wholly or partly, from pain, grief, want, anxiety, trouble, encumbrance, or anything that is considered to be an evil; give ease, comfort, or consolation to; help; aid; support; succor: as, to relieve the poor and needy.
  • Specifically, to bring efficient help to (a besieged place); raise the siege of.
  • To release from a post, station, task, or duty by substituting another person or party; put another in the place of, or take the place of, in the performance of any duty, the bearing of any burden, or the like: as, to relieve a sentinel or guard.
  • To ease of any burden, wrong, or oppression by judicial or legislative interposition, by indemnification for losses, or the like; right.
  • To give assistance to; support.
  • To mitigate; lessen; soften.
  • To give relief or prominence to, literally or figuratively; hence, to give contrast to; heighten the effect or interest of, by contrast or variety.
  • Synonyms Mitigate. Assuage, etc. (see alleviate); diminish, lighten.
  • To rise; arise.

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

  • transitive verb obsolete To lift up; to raise again, as one who has fallen; to cause to rise.
  • transitive verb To cause to seem to rise; to put in relief; to give prominence or conspicuousness to; to set off by contrast.
  • transitive verb To raise up something in; to introduce a contrast or variety into; to remove the monotony or sameness of.
  • transitive verb To raise or remove, as anything which depresses, weighs down, or crushes; to render less burdensome or afflicting; to alleviate; to abate; to mitigate; to lessen
  • transitive verb To free, wholly or partly, from any burden, trial, evil, distress, or the like; to give ease, comfort, or consolation to; to give aid, help, or succor to; to support, strengthen, or deliver.
  • transitive verb To release from a post, station, or duty; to put another in place of, or to take the place of, in the bearing of any burden, or discharge of any duty.
  • transitive verb To ease of any imposition, burden, wrong, or oppression, by judicial or legislative interposition, as by the removal of a grievance, by indemnification for losses, or the like; to right.

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

  • verb free from a burden, evil, or distress
  • verb save from ruin, destruction, or harm
  • verb grant relief or an exemption from a rule or requirement to
  • verb lessen the intensity of or calm
  • verb relieve oneself of troubling information
  • verb provide physical relief, as from pain
  • verb grant exemption or release to
  • verb take by stealing
  • verb provide relief for
  • verb alleviate or remove (pressure or stress) or make less oppressive
  • verb free someone temporarily from his or her obligations

Etymologies

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

[Middle English releven, from Old French relever, from Latin relevāre : re-, re- + levāre, to raise; see legwh- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French relever, specifically from the conjugated forms such as (jeo) relieve ("I lift up"), and its source, Latin relevo ("to lift up, lighten, relieve, alleviate"), combined form of re- ("back") + levo ("to lift"). Compare levant, levity, etc.

Examples

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