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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. 3. support, sustain. 4. aid, help, assist, succor.
1. intensify.
Synonym Study
1. 2.3. See comfort. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for unrelieved
Historical Examples
  • And still there was no ray, nothing but unrelieved blackness.

    Pirates of the Gorm Nat Schachner
  • She was dressed in white muslin, unrelieved by ornament or any suggestion of colour.

    The Avenger E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • The sky was unrelieved by any further flashes of light for many minutes.

    The Night Riders Ridgwell Cullum
  • It was a toilsome and dreary march, unrelieved by aught to lessen the fatigue.

    Arthur O'Leary Charles James Lever
  • Ten years of it—ten years of dogged work and unrelieved failure.

  • In the unrelieved darkness of the night I slept there alone.

    My Reminiscences Rabindranath Tagore
  • It looked a desolation, a poignant gloom, an unrelieved sorrow.

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
  • He wants the gloom of Haxard's death to remain in unrelieved inkiness at the end.

    The Story of a Play W. D. Howells
  • Morton Eden's reports to Grenville form an unrelieved jeremiad.

    William Pitt and the Great War John Holland Rose
  • Not all the Orient has been given over to unrelieved despotism.

    The New World of Islam Lothrop Stoddard
British Dictionary definitions for unrelieved


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 unrelieved



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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unrelieved 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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