[ ri-preev ]
/ rɪˈpriv /

verb (used with object), re·prieved, re·priev·ing.

to delay the impending punishment or sentence of (a condemned person).
to relieve temporarily from any evil.


a respite from impending punishment, as from execution of a sentence of death.
a warrant authorizing this.
any respite or temporary relief.

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)


3 See pardon.
5 delay, postponement, stay, deferment.


re·priev·er, nounun·re·prieved, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Examples from the Web for reprieve

British Dictionary definitions for reprieve

/ (rɪˈpriːv) /

verb (tr)

to postpone or remit the punishment of (a person, esp one condemned to death)
to give temporary relief to (a person or thing), esp from otherwise irrevocable harmthe government has reprieved the company with a huge loan


a postponement or remission of punishment, esp of a person condemned to death
a warrant granting a postponement
a temporary relief from pain or harm; respite
the act of reprieving or the state of being reprieved

Derived forms of reprieve

reprievable, adjectiverepriever, noun

Word Origin for reprieve

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