Definitions

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

  • intransitive verb To prevent or suspend the punishment of (someone, especially a convicted criminal).
  • intransitive verb To prevent or suspend (a punishment).
  • intransitive verb To bring relief to.
  • intransitive verb To prevent the imposition of a scheduled or expected punishment, especially temporarily.
  • noun The prevention or suspension of a scheduled or expected punishment.
  • noun A court order or other official notification preventing or suspending a scheduled or expected punishment.
  • noun Temporary relief, as from danger or pain.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The suspension of the execution of a criminal's sentence.
  • noun Respite in general; interval of ease or relief; delay of something dreaded.
  • noun Synonyms Reprieve, Respite. Reprieve is now used chiefly in the sense of the first definition, to name a suspension or postponement of the execution of a sentence of death. Respite is a free word, applying to an intermission or postponement of something wearying, burdensome, or troublesome: as, respite from work. Respite may be for an indefinite or a definite time; a reprieve is generally for a time named. A respite may be a reprieve.
  • To acquit; set free; release.
  • To grant a respite to; suspend or delay the execution of for a time: as, to reprieve a criminal for thirty days.
  • To relieve for a time from any danger or suffering; respite; spare; save.
  • To secure a postponement of (an execution).
  • Synonyms See the noun.

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

  • transitive verb To delay the punishment of; to suspend the execution of sentence on; to give a respite to; to respite.
  • transitive verb To relieve for a time, or temporarily.
  • noun A temporary suspension of the execution of a sentence, especially of a sentence of death.
  • noun Interval of ease or relief; respite.

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

  • verb transitive To cancel or postpone the punishment of someone, especially an execution.
  • verb transitive To bring relief to someone.
  • verb transitive, obsolete To take back to prison (in lieu of execution).
  • noun The cancellation or postponement of a punishment.
  • noun A document authorizing such an action.
  • noun Relief from pain etc., especially temporary.

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

  • noun the act of reprieving; postponing or remitting punishment
  • noun an interruption in the intensity or amount of something
  • noun a warrant granting postponement (usually to postpone the execution of the death sentence)
  • noun a (temporary) relief from harm or discomfort
  • verb postpone the punishment of a convicted criminal, such as an execution
  • verb relieve temporarily

Etymologies

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

[Alteration (influenced by Middle English repreven, to contradict, variant of reproven, to rebuke) of Middle English reprien, probably from Old French repris, past participle of reprendre, to take back, from Latin reprehendere, reprēndere, to hold back; see reprehend.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

1571, in sense of “to take back to prison”, from Middle English repryen ("to remand, detain") (1494), probably from Middle French repris, form of reprendre ("take back"); cognate to reprise. Sense generalized, but retains connotations of punishment and execution. Noun attested 1598.

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