Definition of relieve in English:

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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.
alleviate, mitigate, assuage, allay, soothe, soften, palliate, appease, ease, dull, reduce, lessen, diminish
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
More example sentences
  • 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
More example sentences
  • 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
More example sentences
  • 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
More example sentences
  • 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;
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



Pronunciation: /rɪˈliːvəb(ə)l/
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.


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

  • elevate from Late Middle English:

    The word elevate is from Latin elevare ‘to raise’, based on levis ‘light’, found also in alleviate (Late Middle English) ‘lighten’, levity (mid 16th century), relieve (Middle English), and the leaven (Middle English) used in bread-making to lighten the loaf.

Words that rhyme with relieve

achieve, believe, breve, cleave, conceive, deceive, eve, greave, grieve, heave, interleave, interweave, khedive, leave, misconceive, naive, Neve, peeve, perceive, reave, receive, reive, reprieve, retrieve, sheave, sleeve, steeve, Steve, Tananarive, Tel Aviv, thieve, underachieve, upheave, weave, we've, Yves

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: re|lieve

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