Definition of relieve in English:


Line breaks: re|lieve
Pronunciation: /rɪˈliːv


[with object]
  • 1Cause (pain, distress, or difficulty) to become less severe or serious: the drug was used to promote sleep and to relieve pain
    More example sentences
    • A teaspoon of oil added to a hot bath will also help to relieve muscular aches and pains.
    • For years he had been taking them once a week, as a way of unwinding and relieving the aches and pains from the hard manual labor required by his landscaping business.
    • Taken jointly, they prevent the progression of the disease, reduce inflammation, and relieve mild to severe pain.
  • 1.1Cause (someone) to stop feeling distressed or anxious: he was relieved by her change of tone
    More example sentences
    • She was relieved when he finally stopped the bike in front of Casey's.
    • They walked deeper and deeper into the cemetery and finally, Al stopped and she was relieved.
    • He was relieved when she finally broke the silence between them.
  • 2Release (someone) from duty by taking their place: another signalman relieved him at 5.30
    More example sentences
    • You're not relieved from duty until someone comes.
    • Every so often a trooper would don armour and cloak to go and relieve a guard on duty outside.
    • Litus had waited for a long time, waiting for one of the two to return, to relieve him from his watchful duties.
  • 2.1Bring military support for (a besieged place): he dispatched an expedition to relieve the city
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    • His last hope of shoring up his flagging position was to relieve Richard's great fortress of Château-Gaillard, the key to Normandy, which Philip was besieging.
    • The Red Army and navy attempted to relieve the city with a huge amphibious assault, the Kerch-Feodosiya operation, on 25 December.
  • 3 (relieve someone of) Take (a burden) from someone: he relieved her of her baggage
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    • The Italian greets me with great courtliness: first relieving me of my burdens, then bowing gracefully, his lips remaining just a hair's breadth above my extended hand.
    • After a moment, Henry tapped the man on his epaulet-clad shoulder and relieved him of his beautiful burden.
    • Neil rushed to her side and relieved her of her burdens.
    free of/from, set free from, release from, liberate from, exempt from, excuse from, absolve from, let off, extricate from, discharge from, unburden of, disburden of, disencumber of; deliver from, rescue from, save from
    rare disembarrass of
  • 3.1Free someone from (a tiresome responsibility): she relieved me of the household chores
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    • Having more money than you've ever had should not relieve you of your responsibilities to protect your credit record.
    • It offered him a job swap and relieved him of most of the responsibility for running the cleaning services.
    • He believes this would save the clubs a total of £3m as they would be relieved of the responsibility of paying their key players.
  • 3.2Used ironically to indicate that someone has been deprived of something: he was relieved of his world title
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    • He was temporarily relieved of duties in 1838 and resigned in protest.
    • So the Colonel shot back, 'Well, you are relieved of your command.'
    • Young men have been relieved of all responsibility - in the name of female emancipation.
  • 4Make less tedious or monotonous by the introduction of variety: the bird’s body is black, relieved only by white under the tail
    More example sentences
    • Shabby suburban streets are suddenly relieved by an almost strident red building, crisply detailed and well tended.
    • Lack of open space to relieve hard-packed pavement and gap-toothed Main Streets drained by malls and sprawl sap the life from downtown.
    • Placed in a wilderness of dark mountains, the scene is relieved by a flood of glaring light that holds the figures in a tableau of awful impact.
    counteract, reduce, alleviate, mitigate, brighten, lighten, sweeten, bring respite to, make something bearable; interrupt, punctuate, vary, break up, stop, bring an end to, cure, dispel; prevent
  • 5 (relieve oneself) Used as a formal or euphemistic expression for urination or defecation: train your dog to relieve itself where you want it to
    More example sentences
    • He even drank some of the water and relieved himself where I had told him to.
    • They saw people bathing, relieving themselves and washing their clothes in the same waters used by sickly, flea-infested donkeys, pigs, cows and goats.
    • I drank liters of water and then had to relieve myself - a new problem.
  • 6 archaic Make (something) stand out: the twilight relieving in purple masses the foliage of the island



More example sentences
  • He has a salary of £75,000 and benefit in kind of £15,000, making total relievable earnings of £90,000.
  • It may be possible for the employer to pay a termination payment equal to the maximum relievable amount and a special contribution equal to the maximum relievable amount, instead of one large termination payment.
  • However, clever structuring will enable them to create licence income in a zero taxed patent company subsidiary, and tax relievable expense in a trading company parent.


More example sentences
  • It's Friday, and you're in major need of a stress reliever.
  • The residence events also included a variety night, where I discovered playing capture the flag at night is the best stress reliever ever.
  • A moisturizer, exfoliator and itch reliever, oatmeal is a triple-threat skin treatment.


Middle English: from Old French relever, from Latin relevare, from re- (expressing intensive force) + levare 'raise' (from levis 'light').

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a small amount; a little