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reprieve

[ri-preev]
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verb (used with object), re·prieved, re·priev·ing.
  1. to delay the impending punishment or sentence of (a condemned person).
  2. to relieve temporarily from any evil.
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noun
  1. a respite from impending punishment, as from execution of a sentence of death.
  2. a warrant authorizing this.
  3. any respite or temporary relief.
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Origin of reprieve

1300–50; perhaps conflation of Middle English repreven to reprove, apparently taken in literal sense “to test again” (involving postponement), and Middle English repried (past participle) < Old French reprit (see reprise)
Related formsre·priev·er, nounun·re·prieved, adjective

Synonyms

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3. See pardon. 5. delay, postponement, stay, deferment.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for reprieve

reprieve

verb (tr)
  1. to postpone or remit the punishment of (a person, esp one condemned to death)
  2. to give temporary relief to (a person or thing), esp from otherwise irrevocable harmthe government has reprieved the company with a huge loan
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noun
  1. a postponement or remission of punishment, esp of a person condemned to death
  2. a warrant granting a postponement
  3. a temporary relief from pain or harm; respite
  4. the act of reprieving or the state of being reprieved
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Derived Formsreprievable, adjectiverepriever, noun

Word Origin

C16: from Old French repris (something) taken back, from reprendre to take back, from Latin reprehendere; perhaps also influenced by obsolete English repreve to reprove
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 reprieve

v.

1570s, reprive, "take back to prison," alteration (perhaps by influence of reprove) of Middle English repryen "to remand, detain" (late 15c.), probably from Middle French repris, past participle of reprendre "take back" (see reprise). Meaning "to suspend an impending execution" is recorded from 1590s; this sense evolved because being sent back to prison was the alternative to being executed. Spelling with -ie- is from 1640s, perhaps by analogy of achieve, etc. Related: Reprieved; reprieving.

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n.

1590s, from reprieve (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper