a delay or cessation for a time, especially of anything distressing or trying; an interval of relief: to toil without respite.
temporary suspension of the execution of a person condemned to death; reprieve.

verb (used with object), res·pit·ed, res·pit·ing.

to relieve temporarily, especially from anything distressing or trying; give an interval of relief from.
to grant delay in the carrying out of (a punishment, obligation, etc.).

Origin of respite

1200–50; (noun) Middle English respit < Old French < Latin respectus (see respect); (v.) Middle English respiten < Old French respitier < Latin respectāre, frequentative of respicere to look back; see respect
Related formsun·res·pit·ed, adjective

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

Examples from the Web for respite

Contemporary Examples of respite

Historical Examples of respite

  • He had got a reprieve, or a respite, and he felt like a boy--another kind of boy from what he had ever been.

    Questionable Shapes

    William Dean Howells

  • And what passion can be durable which is so violent as hers, and to which no respite is allowed?

  • Somebody played something on the piano, and this was, in a way, a respite for John.

  • For them, there were no “weak, piping times of peace,”––no respite from danger.

    Chronicles of Border Warfare

    Alexander Scott Withers

  • The priest thanked God for the respite He had been pleased to vouchsafe to him.

British Dictionary definitions for respite



a pause from exertion; interval of rest
a temporary delay
a temporary stay of execution; reprieve


(tr) to grant a respite to; reprieve
Derived Formsrespiteless, adjective

Word Origin for respite

C13: from Old French respit, from Latin respectus a looking back; see respect
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 respite

mid-13c., from Old French respit "delay, respect" (Modern French répit), from Latin respectus "consideration, recourse, regard" (see respect (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper