verb (used with object), res·cued, res·cu·ing.

to free or deliver from confinement, violence, danger, or evil.
Law. to liberate or take by forcible or illegal means from lawful custody.


the act of rescuing.


of or relating to someone or something trained or equipped to rescue: a rescue dog.

Origin of rescue

1300–50; (v.) Middle English rescuen < Old French rescourre, equivalent to re- re- + escourre to shake, drive out, remove < Latin excutere (ex- ex-1 + -cutere, combining form of quatere to shake); (noun) Middle English, derivative of the v.
Related formsres·cu·a·ble, adjectiveres·cue·less, adjectiveres·cu·er, nounnon·res·cue, nounqua·si-res·cued, adjectiveun·res·cu·a·ble, adjectiveun·res·cued, adjective

Synonyms for rescue Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for rescue

Contemporary Examples of rescue

Historical Examples of rescue

  • “He fled, when Stephen made in to the rescue of my father,” said Dennet.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • Mr. Gladstone said that the policy of the Government was to "rescue and retire."

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • The Greeks rushed to the rescue, while all Europe held aloof.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • What might not be happening to Corney, she thought, while she was on the way to his rescue!

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • Alleyne stared open-eyed at this tigress who had sprung so suddenly to his rescue.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

British Dictionary definitions for rescue


verb -cues, -cuing or -cued (tr)

to bring (someone or something) out of danger, attack, harm, etc; deliver or save
to free (a person) from legal custody by force
law to seize (goods or property) by force


  1. the act or an instance of rescuing
  2. (as modifier)a rescue party
the forcible removal of a person from legal custody
law the forcible seizure of goods or property
Derived Formsrescuable, adjectiverescuer, noun

Word Origin for rescue

C14: rescowen, from Old French rescourre, from re- + escourre to pull away, from Latin excutere to shake off, from quatere to shake
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 rescue

late 14c., from rescue (v.). Earlier noun was rescous (early 14c.), from Old French rescous.


c.1300, from stem of Old French rescorre "protect, keep safe; free, deliver" (Modern French recourre), from re-, intensive prefix (see re-), + escourre "to cast off, discharge," from Latin excutere "to shake off, drive away," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + -cutere, combining form of quatere "to shake" (see quash). Related: Rescued; rescuing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper