Definition of relief in English:

relief

noun

mass noun
  • 1A feeling of reassurance and relaxation following release from anxiety or distress.

    ‘much to her relief, she saw the door open’
    • ‘I felt a sense of relief, reassuring myself that that girl wouldn't be me.’
    • ‘What followed was a frenzy of joy, relief and unfiltered emotion.’
    • ‘It was with a feeling of relaxation and relief that every one heard the clocks strike the hour for the close of the poll.’
    • ‘A few minutes later, Vicki heard the ‘ding’ of the front door and released a breath of relief.’
    • ‘Turning away I closed my eyes and released a sigh of relief.’
    • ‘His smile was one of relief and he relaxed again slightly, drawing her close for one last squeeze of a hug before asking.’
    • ‘There were so many feelings in this room: happiness, relief, anxiety, anger and pain.’
    • ‘Evelyn cried out with relief, but her reassured expression soon changed drastically in a look of pure fury.’
    • ‘Releasing a breath of relief, Rachel absently accepted Lucy's urge to move forward.’
    • ‘A rush of relief washed over him as Lukas' voice answered the inquiry.’
    • ‘At once, with mixed relief and anxiety, she realized that they were alone.’
    • ‘Anyway, you'll be pleased to know that Father Christmas did turn up that night and there was much joy the following morning - joy mixed with relief.’
    • ‘Thomas was watching her with relief so palpable that she ached in sympathy.’
    • ‘Like a patient leaving the hospital, she stepped out of the house on 11 Bandfield Street and gazed at the street with a blend of relief and anxiety.’
    • ‘The mix of emotions on his face was so varied between anxiety, worry and relief, when he saw me breathing again.’
    • ‘I start towards the other table with a strange mixture of relief and anxiety.’
    • ‘I almost screamed into the phone out of excitement, relief, anticipation, anxiety, and every other unsure feeling.’
    • ‘I entwined my fingers with hers, experiencing relief and dissolved anxiety as I felt her squeeze back.’
    • ‘Though she felt like releasing a sigh of relief, for an unknown reason the happiness refused to come.’
    • ‘They both sighed with relief, and released each other.’
    reassurance, consolation, comfort, solace, calmness, relaxation, repose, ease
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1count noun A cause of or occasion for relief.
      ‘it was a relief to find somewhere to stay’
      • ‘It is also a relief to see him in a role that buries his floppy-haired, bumbling nice guy image.’
      • ‘‘What a relief,’ he agreed, relaxing in a sweater and slacks in the smaller, more intimately lit restaurant.’
      • ‘At least the chair is comfortable - a relief, since she's been sitting there for over an hour.’
      • ‘For now, it's a relief to see that she is not included in Forbes magazine's recent list of the world's 100 most powerful women.’
      • ‘With the autumn sun smiling and rain providing an occasional relief, the season has set in with a vibrant and colourful note.’
      • ‘But the paltry amount of snow here is a relief compared to the four-foot snowfalls we'd receive at least five times a year in Montreal.’
      • ‘The movie's brevity (it's only two hours long) thus comes as a relief.’
      • ‘It looked just like the last two times that they had visited, which was a relief, considering the present circumstances.’
      • ‘The vastness of the sea and the expanse of the beach seems to be a welcome relief for many who spend a better part of their lives cooped up inside offices, flats and apartments.’
      • ‘There's nothing like speaking out about the things you dread most, for it's a relief to unburden yourself of your worst worries and nagging fears.’
      • ‘It is also a great relief to finish with the life-belts & hammocks.’
      • ‘The absence of scholarly essays, on the other hand, is a relief.’
      • ‘You said that one of the great reliefs of doing Ibsen is that you have some really great dialogue to work with for a change.’
      • ‘The dance events were a big relief to the stressed.’
      • ‘What a relief - that's enough to get anyone started!’
      • ‘Personally, the silly, contrived plot comes as a welcome relief.’
      • ‘And what a relief it must have been to stand over simmering pots of chutney in the winter instead of the heat of a summer's day.’
      • ‘It is such a relief to know which side is right, and downright comforting to have a hero in the person of that rookie cop who blew the whistle on the six bad cops.’
      • ‘And when we do get the odd shower, what a welcome relief!’
      • ‘After a walk of eight kilometres, it's quite a relief.’
    2. 1.2 The alleviation of pain, discomfort, or distress.
      ‘tablets for the relief of pain’
      • ‘The majority of patients undergoing this procedure experience immediate pain relief.’
      • ‘The Captain continuing to massage her tensed muscles and relaxation once again gave relief to the few lingering spasms.’
      • ‘And for some of you, relief from this sometimes paralyzing disorder could be within sight.’
      • ‘But he also feels that an end would provide relief from the pain of his loneliness.’
      • ‘This regimen usually continues until the patient experiences relief from symptoms.’
      • ‘Is there a treatment that can bring relief from the pain and muscle stiffness?’
      • ‘To get relief from soaring summer temperatures, children head to the beach or local pool.’
      • ‘While you're waiting for your tendon to heal, you can find immediate relief from the discomfort by icing the painful area.’
      • ‘In severe cases, antidepressants may provide greater symptomatic relief.’
      • ‘She had been unable to obtain relief from over-the-counter medications, because she could not swallow pills.’
      • ‘As a result, they feel they need relief and reassurance more than ever.’
      • ‘On emergence from anesthesia, nearly all patients experience immediate pain relief and mild sensory loss.’
      • ‘That gave me a slight relief but it quickly subsided when she sat down next to Travis again.’
      • ‘Thus, the clinician's goal is to promote relief from pain and promote functional recovery.’
      • ‘When other therapies fail to provide relief from the pain of a damaged hip, hip replacement may be the answer.’
      • ‘A high percent of respondents had some, little or no relief from a number of herbal products that have been shown in medical studies to be helpful.’
      • ‘Nitrates often are used in emergency treatment of acute chest pain, but relief with nitrates is an uncertain diagnostic and prognostic sign.’
      • ‘While you wait for your body to mend, pain medication provides relief.’
      • ‘These creams can lubricate the area and some contain a local anaesthetic to provide short term relief from any discomfort.’
      • ‘This is a drug that may be given by injection to treat cluster headache, and usually gives fast relief from acute attacks.’
      alleviation, alleviating, relieving, mitigation, mitigating, assuagement, assuaging, palliation, allaying, appeasement, soothing, easing, dulling, lessening, reduction, abatement
      freedom, release, liberation, deliverance, exemption, discharge
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3usually light relief Something interesting or enjoyable that provides a short respite from a tense or tedious situation.
      ‘the kiss-and-tell tale gave the nation some light relief from page after page of war coverage’
      • ‘Many expect audience banter to be a bit of light relief from more scripted material.’
      • ‘The only light relief is the story of a narrow escape from death.’
      • ‘I could do with some light relief and Owen and his friends looked like they could probably provide it.’
      • ‘The first act then proceeds with the usual light relief provided by Wolfgang (the tutor) trying to prove that he can still cut a step or two with a younger woman.’
      • ‘The sexist behaviour of city analysts and senior managers is certainly deplorable; however the world of trade is a pressurised one, and everyone is in need of some light relief.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, it enjoyed four successful series, providing a rich seam of satire and some much-needed light relief during a particularly unsettled period of Britain's recent past.’
      • ‘Only really Collins seems to inject the fun needed to bring about some light relief from the more serious stuff between Shylock and Antonio.’
      • ‘China and Canada provided drama today and a contingent of National Football League players provided comic relief on the final day of racing at the 13th annual Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Festival.’
      • ‘Indeed, the political circus may well provide light relief to an otherwise thoroughly depressing scenario.’
      • ‘His deliberately two-dimensional characters are hilariously drawn to provide some much needed light relief to such an obviously calamitous tale.’
      • ‘But then, it's only days away from Munster's biggest game of the year and a little light relief always helps to divert attention.’
      • ‘If you're doing a drama that has some comedic elements you can't forget that it's primarily a very serious film that has some light relief.’
      • ‘This is, after all, a film which takes the business of war and genocide as its central themes, but which manages to punctuate events with some much-needed light relief.’
      • ‘True, Dwarves provided comic relief in The Hobbit but that was originally written as a children's book and not as a 'serious' work.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, this couple provided us with the much-needed comic relief.’
      • ‘Every now and then it all seemed slightly amusing, as if offering a kind of light relief beside the real horrors of war.’
      • ‘This one did seem much darker even than before - a bit of light relief would have been good.’
      • ‘After all the upheaval I've had, even a confrontation with an insensitive neighbour of many years would come as light relief!’
      • ‘At first it seems like light relief, but then you realise his mother is an integral part of the story.’
      • ‘Fortunately, the programme does provide light relief.’
      respite, remission, lightening, brightening
      View synonyms
  • 2Financial or practical assistance given to those in special need or difficulty.

    ‘raising money for famine relief’
    as modifier ‘relief workers’
    • ‘At relief camps, the water and food is being provided by private organisations.’
    • ‘What could be wrong with an emergency drought relief bill?’
    • ‘Firefighters in Bingley are hoping to wash hundreds of vehicles to raise funds to help the tsunami disaster relief effort.’
    • ‘The focus now is completely on getting relief and assistance into these devastated areas.’
    • ‘The following relief is necessary to bring about a cessation of the violence or the threat of violence.’
    • ‘But the same needs for relief supplies, evacuation and emergency services would exist.’
    • ‘No sooner had I requested a little charcoal, when immediately a full scale famine relief effort was in effect.’
    • ‘The UN in Somalia had resolved very little, apart from initial famine relief.’
    • ‘The need for relief supplies may not have been as urgent this time around.’
    • ‘I've created an edition of prints to benefit the Tsunami disaster relief efforts.’
    • ‘It has assisted with disaster relief in Central Asia, the Caucasus, Lebanon, and the Persian Gulf region.’
    • ‘Currently Iraqi leaders have been turning down humanitarian efforts and have refused offers of relief from private medical groups.’
    • ‘We go into the most desperate situations to provide medical relief.’
    • ‘Remember, nobody could come in with relief supplies because it was too dangerous.’
    • ‘How many of these people would have spent a penny over a relief fund?’
    • ‘The services help the Corps build dams, waterways, roads and other national infrastructure, as well as assist in disaster relief.’
    • ‘Relief agencies offer public information about disasters and how to prepare for them.’
    • ‘Their businesses offer services to companies seeking or holding federal contracts in the hurricane relief operation.’
    • ‘And he wants to use the occasion to urge people to keep contributing to tsunami disaster relief.’
    • ‘Threats of a ferocious US-led assault on Afghanistan forced relief agencies to pull out.’
    help, aid, assistance, succour, care, sustenance
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 A remission of tax normally due.
      ‘employees who donate to charity will receive tax relief’
      • ‘The houses are exempt from stamp duty for owner occupiers and also benefit from mortgage interest relief for investors.’
      • ‘In other cases, Revenue was concerned other individuals granted reliefs under section 481 spent budgets abroad or did not even make a proper film.’
      • ‘They also qualify for mortgage interest relief for investors.’
      • ‘Section 23 is due to end next year but the Emmet Road scheme allows purchasers to claim relief in the current tax year.’
      • ‘Under provisions of the Finance Act, 2001, their parish could claim back tax relief on those contributions.’
      • ‘Pension holders can obtain tax relief on contributions of up to 30% of their salary, depending on age.’
      • ‘Harbour Point comes with Section 23 tax incentives as well as full mortgage interest relief for investors.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, tenants will not get double rent relief or rates remission.’
      • ‘Those reliefs were crucial to the viable redevelopment of the Hotel.’
      • ‘Self-employed people obtain tax relief on pension contributions through the mechanism of annual tax returns.’
      • ‘Consequently their entitlement to these reliefs could be reduced.’
      • ‘‘No ceiling has been placed on the degree to which well-placed individuals can reduce their tax contribution to zero through the use of these reliefs,’ he said.’
      • ‘The tax remains overly complex, with reliefs subject to numerous conditions and three different taxes which are inheritance/gift tax, probate tax and discretionary trust tax.’
      • ‘Ending tax relief schemes will save the Exchequer hundreds of millions of euro, but the effects won't be seen until 2012 when most reliefs have been claimed.’
      • ‘This figure includes your own contributions, any contributions your employer may make and the tax relief you receive from the Inland Revenue.’
      • ‘Any excess relief in a tax year may be carried forward for offset against rental income arising from Irish property in future years.’
      • ‘There are alternatives to gold sales which would provide more debt relief in a shorter period of time.’
      • ‘A new relief for gifts and inheritances of houses was introduced two years ago.’
      • ‘Yet Malawi is not even one of the 18 countries earmarked for immediate debt relief by the G8.’
      • ‘Special cases for years, suddenly farmers were being hit by measures common to all taxpayers, such as the ending of the roll-over relief on capital gains tax.’
    2. 2.2Law The redress of a hardship or grievance.
      • ‘The applicant in this case seeks prerogative relief under section 75 of the Constitution.’
      • ‘There are some cases where judicial review courts give relief.’
      • ‘He then concluded that the balance of convenience favours granting the injunctive relief.’
      • ‘The motion now before this court seeks the following relief.’
      • ‘Does this court have authority to grant the interlocutory relief sought?’
    3. 2.3 The action of raising the siege of a besieged town.
      ‘the relief of Mafeking’
      • ‘In 1646, on the anniversary of the relief of Taunton from siege, George Newton, the minister, looked around him and described it in a sermon.’
      • ‘So, in the summer of 1139, while Zengi was laying siege to Damascus, a Christian army marched to its relief.’
      • ‘They also were significant in limited tactical actions close to the shore such as the prosecution or relief of sieges.’
  • 3usually as modifier A person or group of people replacing others who have been on duty.

    ‘the relief nurse was late’
    • ‘The question remains whether the carnage that was wrought from the air and by the relief columns was strictly necessary.’
    • ‘As it was a dark, moonless night and the Americans were advancing silently, a German relief column was unaware that an American attack was under way.’
    • ‘After some time, a relief dealer came to our table and took over dealing.’
    • ‘He has no real job and owes his flatmate Ned, who is a relief teacher, over $2000 in back rent.’
    • ‘The former relief pitcher has had mixed success when he staggers his delivery.’
    • ‘The first day I worked in the OR, a relief nurse came to give me a break, and I began to look forward to the morning socialization and a cup of coffee.’
    • ‘Fifteen months later, he takes up a position as a relief teacher in a Los Angeles school where gangs rule and education is resisted by most students.’
    • ‘Here comes Stengel out of the dugout, waving for a relief pitcher.’
    • ‘In the meantime, your lessons will be taken over by a relief teacher today.’
    • ‘Fifteen cohorts were annihilated at Atuatuca, and another garrison commanded by Quintus Cicero only just saved by a relief column.’
    • ‘Once we had this physics lesson with a relief teacher because our normal teacher was off sick and Andy pretended to be deaf.’
    • ‘The purpose of the third soldier was to provide an alert assistant to the driver while the relief driver slept in one of the two bunks in the cab.’
    • ‘I saw a relief teacher writing things on the board, and sighed.’
    replacement, substitute, deputy, reserve, standby, stopgap, cover, stand-in, supply, fill-in, locum, locum tenens, understudy, proxy, surrogate
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1British An extra vehicle providing supplementary public transport at peak times or in emergencies.
      ‘the coach had broken down and a relief vehicle had taken an hour to arrive’
  • 4The state of being clearly visible or obvious due to being accentuated.

    ‘the setting sun threw the snow-covered peaks into relief’
    • ‘It must be said that some effort is made to compare Frank with his fellow-paramedics, by way of getting his crisis to stand out with greater relief.’
    • ‘Yes, the production is big and bright and bouncy, but far from compromising her sound, it throws it into relief.’
    • ‘But these cults throw into relief the more usual pattern.’
    • ‘But it's worth stating the obvious once again because the repetition of what we know can put into relief what we do not.’
    • ‘Its girly, almost camp, presence effectively throws the testosterone of the action sequences into relief.’
    • ‘She watched Wolf with pleasure as he chewed, his jaw muscles thrown into relief by the light of the cookfire.’
    • ‘Knotty or mundane national topics often come into relief through a current reference.’
    • ‘Two swinging lanterns lit the interior with a yellow-orange cast that made Rebecca stand out in sharp relief like some golden goddess.’
    • ‘Every ruddy pebble on the pounded clay, every blade of yellow barley beyond it, stands out in bold relief before me, vying for my eyes to embrace it and it alone.’
    • ‘He was pale, his freckles stood out in stark relief against the white backdrop of his cheeks and his reddish hair was aflame.’
    • ‘To compare it in this respect with the work of any other poet in English throws this peculiarity into relief.’
    • ‘Crimson coated her palm and fingers, standing out in stark relief against the pale of her skin.’
    • ‘Every vein in her body stood out in bright relief against her pale skin.’
    • ‘Muscles stood out in stark relief, mute testimony to her effort.’
    • ‘I remember what she looked like perfectly: every piece of fur standing out in sharp relief, brushed to a glossy sheen, her breeches green and gold.’
    • ‘By presenting the song as high camp drama, the rather silly Satanic image of the Stones is thrown into relief.’
    • ‘Shocked at this, it quickly shifted into relief that he was busy with her therefore couldn't bombard her with fake concern this time.’
    • ‘The girl's face was thrown into relief for the first time, and he glanced down.’
    • ‘This respondent throws into relief the transition he has made from one mode to the other.’
    • ‘The classical compatibilist held that that the conditional analysis brings into relief a rich picture of freedom.’
    1. 4.1 A method of moulding, carving, or stamping in which the design stands out from the surface, to a greater (high relief) or lesser (low relief) extent.
      ‘he cast them in relief from molten metal’
      • ‘Later, it became more complex: cutting, putting blocks together, printing with relief and with intaglio blocks.’
      • ‘Previous Pharaohs had followed the rule that, in temple design, incised relief was used on the exterior walls, where it could cast strong shadows.’
      • ‘Intaglio is a type of incised relief in which the design does not project from the surface; rather it is cut into it, sinking below the surface.’
    2. 4.2count noun A piece of sculpture in relief.
      • ‘Although technically sculptural reliefs, these works speak to a number of painting's traditional formal concerns.’
      • ‘For good measure, they defaced some of the pagan reliefs adorning its walls.’
      • ‘The reliefs in the temple tell the story of the queen's divine birth, (even one showing her suckling the goddess Hathor who is always depicted as a cow), her conquests and achievements.’
      • ‘Rock reliefs carved by the sculptors of the Assyrian kings mark the terrain across the northern Iraqi countryside.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, this popular tale has as much basis as the legends attributing crucifixes and saintly reliefs in various Apuan village churches, and even one Gothic rose window, to the great master.’
      • ‘Yet this friezelike arrangement of rhyming bodies and limbs also invokes classical reliefs of ceremonial processions, endowing the painting's blithe subject with an unexpected grandeur.’
      • ‘Williams took up painting full time only in the 1980s, after years of making sculptural reliefs that presented more generalized, symbolic statements about the human condition.’
      • ‘Though the palace and monastery have disappeared and the inside of the church has been gutted, the exterior walls are still in good condition and decorated with recognisable and realistic reliefs.’
      • ‘The empire's satrapies stretched from the Indus to the Aegean, and delicate reliefs on the walls of the Apadana Palace depict Libyans, Ethiopians, Egyptians, Turks and others bearing tributes to Darius.’
      • ‘The very presence of the reliefs testified to Mussolini's power in restoring the past glories of Rome.’
      • ‘One of these reliefs is in the Museum of Fine Arts collection.’
      • ‘Stain-glass windows and reliefs on the column close to the altar add beauty to the atmosphere.’
      • ‘The artist has no doubt found inspiration in Greco-Roman statuary and reliefs, because figures and forms are as flat as a classical frieze.’
      • ‘From a distance, the reliefs may appear to be governed by a strict bilateral symmetry, but closer inspection reveals a more complicated arrangement of planes.’
      • ‘From the outside, the concrete walls will feature reliefs of the bamboo found growing nearby.’
      • ‘The arch was inset with sculptural reliefs depicting the campaigns of the French armies in Italy, while in front and behind it there stood figures of Liberty and Triumph on circular podia.’
      • ‘A sculptural relief on one wall was matched by a smaller negative version inserted into the wall opposite.’
      • ‘A recent show of two sculptures and nine wall reliefs invoked Penone's past with some humble, nontraditional materials, yet presented them in decidedly conventional formats.’
      • ‘Sculpture is generally classified into three major categories: intaglio, reliefs and sculpture in the round.’
      • ‘But even more, these figures recall Greek and Roman architectural reliefs.’
    3. 4.3 A representation of relief given by an arrangement of line or colour or shading.
    4. 4.4Geography Difference in height from the surrounding terrain.
      ‘the sharp relief of many mountains’
      • ‘Furthermore, in choosing the forward edge, it is important to take into account terrain relief, the type of soil, and the depth of the snow cover.’
      • ‘It took one computer artist a full year to paint terrain relief on every plate.’

Phrases

  • in relief

    • Acting as a substitute pitcher.

      ‘he appeared in relief over two seasons’
      • ‘James Kroeker was the winner with Peter Reimer pitching the final two and two thirds in relief.’
      • ‘Dave Cornelius came in relief for McNabb and held the Badgers to just one hit in the remaining three innings.’
      • ‘The second year pivot came on in relief and had his share of struggles.’
      • ‘Nicole Ronald then came on in relief in the third inning and silenced the Western bats for the remainder of the affair.’
  • on relief

    • Receiving state assistance because of need.

      ‘he was the type of man who ended up on relief when times were flush for everyone else’
      • ‘In the 1930s, working-class people, many on relief, flocked to movies where Park Avenue swells wined and dined in style.’
      • ‘Organisers on relief risked having their benefits taken away, but still they persevered.’

Origin

Late Middle English: from Old French, from relever ‘raise up, relieve’, from Latin relevare ‘raise again, alleviate’.

Pronunciation

relief

/rɪˈliːf/