9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[ri-preev] /rɪˈpriv/
verb (used with object), reprieved, reprieving.
to delay the impending punishment or sentence of (a condemned person).
to relieve temporarily from any evil.
a respite from impending punishment, as from execution of a sentence of death.
a warrant authorizing this.
any respite or temporary relief.
Origin of reprieve
1300-50; perhaps conflation of Middle English repreven to reprove, apparently taken in literal sense “to test again” (involving postponement), and Middle English repried (past participle) < Old French reprit (see reprise)
Related forms
repriever, noun
unreprieved, adjective
3. See pardon. 5. delay, postponement, stay, deferment. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for reprieve
  • During their reprieve, they gave extraordinary proofs of charity and humility.
  • It was the second reprieve he had had within the last half hour.
  • After a decades-long reprieve, bed bugs have returned with a vengeance, plaguing rich and poor alike.
  • But for-profit colleges aren't waiting for a judicial reprieve.
  • The big benefits of soy milk are now suspect, even as coffee is seeing a reprieve.
  • He was granted a reprieve so that the state could determine whether he was mentally competent to be executed.
  • He was a cheerful pessimist who never lost sight of the fact that our reprieve from history may be temporary.
  • NJ horse tracks win temporary reprieve from government shutdown.
  • Transit agencies give seniors a reprieve as free ride.
  • All applications for pardon, commutation of sentence, or reprieve shall be made in writing to the adult parole authority.
British Dictionary definitions for reprieve


verb (transitive)
to postpone or remit the punishment of (a person, esp one condemned to death)
to give temporary relief to (a person or thing), esp from otherwise irrevocable harm: the government has reprieved the company with a huge loan
a postponement or remission of punishment, esp of a person condemned to death
a warrant granting a postponement
a temporary relief from pain or harm; respite
the act of reprieving or the state of being reprieved
Derived Forms
reprievable, adjective
repriever, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Old French repris (something) taken back, from reprendre to take back, from Latin reprehendere; perhaps also influenced by obsolete English repreve to reprove
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for reprieve

1570s, reprive, "take back to prison," alteration (perhaps by influence of reprove) of Middle English repryen "to remand, detain" (late 15c.), probably from Middle French repris, past participle of reprendre "take back" (see reprise). Meaning "to suspend an impending execution" is recorded from 1590s; this sense evolved because being sent back to prison was the alternative to being executed. Spelling with -ie- is from 1640s, perhaps by analogy of achieve, etc. Related: Reprieved; reprieving.


1590s, from reprieve (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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