[ ri-lees ]
/ rɪˈlis /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: release / re-leased / re-leases / re-leasing on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), re·leased, re·leas·ing.
Smoothly step over to these common grammar mistakes that trip many people up. Good luck!
Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Origin of release

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English verb reles(s)en, relecen, from Old French relesser, relaissier, releiss(i)er, from Latin relaxāre “to loosen, stretch out”; Middle English noun reles(s)e, releise, from Old French reles, relais, releis, back formation from relesser, relaisser, releiss(i)er; see origin at lax, relax

synonym study for release

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 enslaved African Americans. John emancipated himself.



re-lease, release

Other definitions for release (2 of 2)

[ ree-lees ]
/ riˈlis /

verb (used with object), re-leased, re-leas·ing.
to lease again.
Law. to make over (land, property, etc.), as to another.
a contract for re-leasing land or property.
the land or property re-leased.

Origin of re-lease

First recorded in 1820–30; re- + lease1


re-lease , release
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is a basic definition of release?

Release means to free from imprisonment or confinement, to free from anything that is acting as a constraint, or to allow something to be out in the open. The word release has many other senses as a verb and a noun.

When a person is released, they are freed from their captivity or anything else that was hindering their freedom. This sense of release is an antonym of words like imprison, detain, or confine.

  • Real-life examples: A person is released from prison once they complete their sentence. For the most part, a person is released from debt if they declare bankruptcy. Parents often force children to release wild animals back to wherever they came from.
  • Used in a sentence: Whenever I go fishing, I always release the fish back into the water after catching them. 

Release is also used in this same sense as a noun.

  • Used in a sentence: The king paid for the release of his son from the enemy. 

Release is also used figuratively to mean to free anything from any kind of restraint.

  • Used in a sentence: I released the rope and let it fall down into the hole.  

Release can also mean to allow something to be freely distributed or sold to the public.

  • Real-life examples: Authors release new books. Musicians release new albums. The government sometimes releases information to the press. Researchers release the results of tests or studies to the public.
  • Used in a sentence: Stephen King just released a new book that I really want to read.

Release is used in this same sense as a noun.

  • Used in a sentence: People lined up to buy Beyoncé’s newest release. 

Where does release come from?

The first records of release come from the early 1300s. It ultimately comes from the Latin verb relaxāre, meaning “to loosen, stretch out.” The English word relax shares this origin.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to release?

  • releaser (noun)
  • releasability (noun)
  • releasable (adjective)
  • nonrelease (noun)
  • unreleasable (adjective)

What are some synonyms for release?

What are some words that share a root or word element with release

What are some words that often get used in discussing release?

What are some words release may be commonly confused with?

How is release used in real life?


Release is a common word that most often means to free something or to make something available to the public.

Try using release!

True or False?

If a prisoner is released from jail, it means they aren’t locked up anymore and are free to leave.

How to use release in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for release

/ (rɪˈliːs) /

verb (tr)

Derived forms of release

releaser, noun

Word Origin for release

C13: from Old French relesser, from Latin relaxāre to slacken; see relax
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