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[ri-leev] /rɪˈliv/
verb (used with object), relieved, relieving.
to ease or alleviate (pain, distress, anxiety, need, etc.).
to free from anxiety, fear, pain, etc.
to free from need, poverty, etc.
to bring effective aid to (a besieged town, military position, etc.).
to ease (a person) of any burden, wrong, or oppression, as by legal means.
to reduce (a pressure, load, weight, etc., on a device or object under stress):
to relieve the steam pressure; to relieve the stress on the supporting walls.
to make less tedious, unpleasant, or monotonous; break or vary the sameness of:
curtains to relieve the drabness of the room.
to bring into relief or prominence; heighten the effect of.
to release (one on duty) by coming as or providing a substitute or replacement.
  1. to free (a closed space, as a tank, boiler, etc.) of more than a desirable pressure or vacuum.
  2. to reduce (the pressure or vacuum in such a space) to a desirable level.
Baseball. to replace (a pitcher).
verb (used without object), relieved, relieving.
Baseball. to act as a relief pitcher:
He relieved in 52 games for the Pirates last season.
to relieve oneself, to urinate or defecate.
Origin of relieve
1300-50; Middle English releven < Middle French relever to raise < Latin relevāre to reduce the load of, lighten, equivalent to re- re- + levāre to raise, derivative of levis light in weight
Related forms
relievable, adjective
[ri-lee-vid-lee] /rɪˈli vɪd li/ (Show IPA),
nonrelieving, adjective
quasi-relieved, adjective
unrelievable, adjective
unrelieved, adjective
unrelievedly, adverb
unrelieving, adjective
1. mitigate, assuage, allay, lighten, lessen, abate, diminish. See comfort. 1-4. aid, help, assist. 3. support, sustain. 4. succor.
1. intensify. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for relieve
  • The secretary, for instance, cannot relieve himself from the responsibility of his office by resigning.
  • On the upside, though, caffeine can help relieve headaches.
  • But the fact remains that the best way to relieve the debt situation is clearly to spend less.
  • The powdered flower heads were once used in cigarettes to relieve asthma, but can be mildly toxic to humans.
  • Becoming aware of your sleeping self could relieve anxiety or tap the creative unconscious.
  • Your dog needs a spot to relieve himself, but it doesn't have to be your lawn or flower bed.
  • Aa new highway opens later this week, promising to relieve traffic congestion and move freight.
  • There are drugs that can help relieve motion sickness if taken about half an hour before traveling.
  • Consciously reminding yourself to blink at intervals during the day will help relieve dry eyes.
  • She added that many sunbathers consider tanning a good way to relieve stress.
British Dictionary definitions for relieve


verb (transitive)
to bring alleviation of (pain, distress, etc) to (someone)
to bring aid or assistance to (someone in need, a disaster area, etc)
to take over the duties or watch of (someone)
to bring aid or a relieving force to (a besieged town, city, etc)
to free (someone) from an obligation
to make (something) less unpleasant, arduous, or monotonous
to bring into relief or prominence, as by contrast
(foll by of) (informal) to take from: the thief relieved him of his watch
relieve oneself, to urinate or defecate
Derived Forms
relievable, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Old French relever, from Latin relevāre to lift up, relieve, from re- + levāre to lighten
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 relieve

late 14c., "alleviate (pain, etc.), mitigate; afford comfort; allow respite; diminish the pressure of," also "give alms to, provide for;" also figuratively, "take heart, cheer up;" from Old French relever "to raise, relieve" (11c.) and directly from Latin relevare "to raise, alleviate, lift up, free from a burden," from re-, intensive prefix (see re-), + levare "to lift up, lighten," from levis "not heavy" (see lever).

The notion is "to raise (someone) out of trouble." From c.1400 as "advance to the rescue in battle;" also "return from battle; recall (troops)." Meaning "release from duty" is from early 15c. Related: relieved; relieving.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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relieve in Medicine

relieve re·lieve (rĭ-lēv')
v. re·lieved, re·liev·ing, re·lieves

  1. To cause a lessening or alleviation of something, such as pain, tension, or a symptom.

  2. To free an individual from pain, anxiety, or distress.

re·liev'a·ble adj.
re·liev'er n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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