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[res-pit] /ˈrɛs pɪt/
a delay or cessation for a time, especially of anything distressing or trying; an interval of relief:
to toil without respite.
temporary suspension of the execution of a person condemned to death; reprieve.
verb (used with object), respited, respiting.
to relieve temporarily, especially from anything distressing or trying; give an interval of relief from.
to grant delay in the carrying out of (a punishment, obligation, etc.).
Origin of respite
1200-50; (noun) Middle English respit < Old French < Latin respectus (see respect); (v.) Middle English respiten < Old French respitier < Latin respectāre, frequentative of respicere to look back; see respect
Related forms
unrespited, adjective
1. hiatus, rest, recess. 2. postponement, stay. 3. alleviate. 4. postpone, suspend. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for respite
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "Give yourself an hour's respite," said the old housekeeper, who had been his nurse and who loved him as her own son.

    The Emperor, Complete Georg Ebers
  • He had got a reprieve, or a respite, and he felt like a boy--another kind of boy from what he had ever been.

    Questionable Shapes William Dean Howells
  • Wait not for him to beseech you; ask him for no respite; but go forward at once, and offer him even more than you can perform.

  • The priest thanked God for the respite He had been pleased to vouchsafe to him.

  • He had a moment's respite now, for Fortunio stung—though lightly—was not likely to come again until he had others to support him.

    St. Martin's Summer Rafael Sabatini
British Dictionary definitions for respite


/ˈrɛspɪt; -paɪt/
a pause from exertion; interval of rest
a temporary delay
a temporary stay of execution; reprieve
(transitive) to grant a respite to; reprieve
Derived Forms
respiteless, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French respit, from Latin respectus a looking back; see respect
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 respite

mid-13c., from Old French respit "delay, respect" (Modern French répit), from Latin respectus "consideration, recourse, regard" (see respect (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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