See more synonyms for relieve on
verb (used with object), re·lieved, re·liev·ing.
  1. to ease or alleviate (pain, distress, anxiety, need, etc.).
  2. to free from anxiety, fear, pain, etc.
  3. to free from need, poverty, etc.
  4. to bring effective aid to (a besieged town, military position, etc.).
  5. to ease (a person) of any burden, wrong, or oppression, as by legal means.
  6. 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.
  7. to make less tedious, unpleasant, or monotonous; break or vary the sameness of: curtains to relieve the drabness of the room.
  8. to bring into relief or prominence; heighten the effect of.
  9. to release (one on duty) by coming as or providing a substitute or replacement.
  10. Machinery.
    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.
  11. Baseball. to replace (a pitcher).
verb (used without object), re·lieved, re·liev·ing.
  1. Baseball. to act as a relief pitcher: He relieved in 52 games for the Pirates last season.
  1. 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 formsre·liev·a·ble, adjectivere·liev·ed·ly [ri-lee-vid-lee] /rɪˈli vɪd li/, adverbnon·re·liev·ing, adjectivequa·si-re·lieved, adjectiveun·re·liev·a·ble, adjectiveun·re·lieved, adjectiveun·re·liev·ed·ly, adverbun·re·liev·ing, adjective

Synonyms for relieve

See more synonyms for on

Synonym study

1. 2. 3. See comfort.

Antonyms for relieve Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for relieve

Contemporary Examples of relieve

Historical Examples of relieve

  • But, to relieve your mind, nothing at all has really happened.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • It seemed to relieve the tension drawn by the other woman's torment.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • And if he turned his eyes to his own camp, he saw little to relieve his anxiety.

  • "It's over the pulling of Lucretia," a man said, simply to relieve his strained feelings.


    W. A. Fraser

  • But the bitterness which he put into it failed to relieve him of any of the bitterness that was in his own mind.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

British Dictionary definitions for relieve


verb (tr)
  1. to bring alleviation of (pain, distress, etc) to (someone)
  2. to bring aid or assistance to (someone in need, a disaster area, etc)
  3. to take over the duties or watch of (someone)
  4. to bring aid or a relieving force to (a besieged town, city, etc)
  5. to free (someone) from an obligation
  6. to make (something) less unpleasant, arduous, or monotonous
  7. to bring into relief or prominence, as by contrast
  8. (foll by of) informal to take fromthe thief relieved him of his watch
  9. relieve oneself to urinate or defecate
Derived Formsrelievable, adjective

Word Origin for relieve

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

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

relieve in Medicine


  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.
Related formsre•lieva•ble adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.