1. Release, free, dismiss, discharge, liberate, emancipate may all mean to set at liberty, let loose, or let go. Release and free, when applied to persons, suggest a helpful action. Both may be used (not always interchangeably) of delivering a person from confinement or obligation: to free or release prisoners. Free (less often, release) is also used for delivering a person from pain, sorrow, etc.: to free from fear. Dismiss, meaning to send away, usually has the meaning of forcing to go unwillingly (to dismiss a servant), but may refer to giving permission to go: The teacher dismissed the class early. Discharge, meaning originally to relieve of a burden (to discharge a gun), has come to refer to that which is sent away, and is often a close synonym to dismiss; it is used in the meaning permit to go in connection with courts and the armed forces: The court discharged a man accused of robbery. Liberate and emancipate, more formal synonyms for release and free, also suggest action intended to be helpful. Liberate suggests particularly the release from unjust punishment, oppression, and the like, and often means to set free through forcible action or military campaign: They liberated the prisoners, the occupied territories, etc. Emancipate also suggests a release of some size and consequence, but one that is less overt, a more formal or legal freedom; and it sometimes connotes an inner liberation: Lincoln emancipated the slaves. John emancipated himself.