on relief


1 [ri-leef]
alleviation, ease, or deliverance through the removal of pain, distress, oppression, etc.
a means or thing that relieves pain, distress, anxiety, etc.
money, food, or other help given to those in poverty or need.
something affording a pleasing change, as from monotony.
release from a post of duty, as by the arrival of a substitute or replacement.
the person or persons acting as replacement.
the rescue of a besieged town, fort, etc., from an attacking force.
the freeing of a closed space, as a tank or boiler, from more than a desirable amount of pressure or vacuum.
Feudal Law. a fine or composition which the heir of a feudal tenant paid to the lord for the privilege of succeeding to the estate.
a distinct or abrupt change in mood, scene, action, etc., resulting in a reduction of intensity, as in a play or novel.
on relief, receiving financial assistance from a municipal, state, or federal government because of poverty or need.

1300–50; Middle English relef < Old French relief, derivative of relever to raise; see relieve

reliefless, adjective

1. mitigation, assuagement, comfort. 3. succor, aid, redress, remedy.

1. intensification.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
relief (rɪˈliːf)
1.  a feeling of cheerfulness or optimism that follows the removal of anxiety, pain, or distress: I breathed a sigh of relief
2.  deliverance from or alleviation of anxiety, pain, distress, etc
3.  a.  help or assistance, as to the poor, needy, or distressed
 b.  (as modifier): relief work
4.  short for tax relief
5.  something that affords a diversion from monotony
6.  a person who replaces or relieves another at some task or duty
7.  a bus, shuttle plane, etc, that carries additional passengers when a scheduled service is full
8.  a road (relief road) carrying traffic round an urban area; bypass
9.  a.  the act of freeing a beleaguered town, fortress, etc: the relief of Mafeking
 b.  (as modifier): a relief column
10.  sculpture, architect relievo, Also called: rilievo
 a.  the projection of forms or figures from a flat ground, so that they are partly or wholly free of it
 b.  a piece of work of this kind
11.  a printing process, such as engraving, letterpress, etc, that employs raised surfaces from which ink is transferred to the paper
12.  any vivid effect resulting from contrast: comic relief
13.  variation in altitude in an area; difference between highest and lowest level: a region of low relief
14.  mechanical engineering the removal of the surface material of a bearing area to allow the access of lubricating fluid
15.  law redress of a grievance or hardship: to seek relief through the courts
16.  European history a succession of payments made by an heir to a fief to his lord: the size of the relief was determined by the lord within bounds set by custom
17.  (US), (Canadian) on relief (of a person) in receipt of government aid because of personal need
[C14: from Old French, from relever to raise up; see relieve]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"ease, alleviation," early 14c., from Anglo-Fr. relif, from O.Fr. relief "assistance," lit. "a raising, that which is lifted," from stressed stem of relever (see relieve). Meaning "aid to impoverished persons" is attested from c.1400; that of "deliverance of a besieged town" is from 1540s.

"projection of figure or design from a flat surface," 1606, from It. rilievo, from rilevare "to raise," from L. relevare "to raise, lighten" (see relieve).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

on relief

Also, on welfare; on the dole. Receiving public financial assistance, as in Half the people in this town are on relief, or Don hated the idea of going on welfare. The first two terms originated in the United States in the 1930s, when government assistance of this kind was first instituted. On the dole, used mainly in Britain but occasionally in America, dates from the 1920s, although the use of dole for a charitable gift dates from about 1200.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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