Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To postpone or cancel the punishment of.
  • transitive v. To bring relief to.
  • n. Postponement or cancellation of a punishment.
  • n. A warrant for such an action.
  • n. Temporary relief, as from danger or pain.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To cancel or postpone the punishment of someone, especially an execution.
  • v. To bring relief to someone.
  • v. To take back to prison (in lieu of execution).
  • n. The cancellation or postponement of a punishment.
  • n. A document authorizing such an action.
  • n. Relief from pain etc., especially temporary.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To delay the punishment of; to suspend the execution of sentence on; to give a respite to; to respite.
  • transitive v. To relieve for a time, or temporarily.
  • n. A temporary suspension of the execution of a sentence, especially of a sentence of death.
  • n. Interval of ease or relief; respite.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To acquit; set free; release.
  • To grant a respite to; suspend or delay the execution of for a time: as, to reprieve a criminal for thirty days.
  • To relieve for a time from any danger or suffering; respite; spare; save.
  • To secure a postponement of (an execution).
  • Synonyms See the noun.
  • n. The suspension of the execution of a criminal's sentence.
  • n. Respite in general; interval of ease or relief; delay of something dreaded.
  • n. Synonyms Reprieve, Respite. Reprieve is now used chiefly in the sense of the first definition, to name a suspension or postponement of the execution of a sentence of death. Respite is a free word, applying to an intermission or postponement of something wearying, burdensome, or troublesome: as, respite from work. Respite may be for an indefinite or a definite time; a reprieve is generally for a time named. A respite may be a reprieve.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the act of reprieving; postponing or remitting punishment
  • n. an interruption in the intensity or amount of something
  • n. a warrant granting postponement (usually to postpone the execution of the death sentence)
  • n. a (temporary) relief from harm or discomfort
  • v. postpone the punishment of a convicted criminal, such as an execution
  • v. relieve temporarily

Etymologies

Alteration (influenced by Middle English repreven, to contradict, variant of reproven, to rebuke) of Middle English reprien, probably from Old French repris, past participle of reprendre, to take back, from Latin reprehendere, reprēndere, to hold back; see reprehend.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
1571, in sense of “to take back to prison”, from Middle English repryen ("to remand, detain") (1494), probably from Middle French repris, form of reprendre ("take back"); cognate to reprise. Sense generalized, but retains connotations of punishment and execution. Noun attested 1598. (Wiktionary)

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