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

  • transitive v. To cause a lessening or alleviation of: relieved all his symptoms; relieved the tension.
  • transitive v. To free from pain, anxiety, or distress.
  • transitive v. To furnish assistance or aid to.
  • transitive v. To rescue from siege.
  • transitive v. To release (a person) from an obligation, restriction, or burden, as by law or legislation.
  • transitive v. To free from a specified duty by providing or acting as a substitute.
  • transitive v. Baseball To take over for (a relief pitcher).
  • transitive v. To make less tedious, monotonous, or unpleasant: Only one small candle relieved the gloom.
  • transitive v. To make prominent or effective by contrast; set off.
  • transitive v. Informal To rob or deprive: Pickpockets relieved him of his money.
  • idiom relieve (oneself) To urinate or defecate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To lift up; to raise again, as one who has fallen; to cause to rise.
  • transitive v. To cause to seem to rise; to put in relief; to give prominence or conspicuousness to; to set off by contrast.
  • transitive v. To raise up something in; to introduce a contrast or variety into; to remove the monotony or sameness of.
  • transitive v. 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 v. 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 v. 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 v. 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 The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

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

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


Middle English releven, from Old French relever, from Latin relevāre : re-, re- + levāre, to raise.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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. (Wiktionary)



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