Meaning of “relieve” in the English Dictionary

"relieve" in British English

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uk /rɪˈliːv/ us /rɪˈliːv/

relieve verb (MAKE BETTER)

C2 [ T ] to make an unpleasant feeling, such as pain or worry, less strong:

She was given a shot of morphine to relieve the pain.
She relieved her boredom at home by learning how to type.

[ T ] to improve an unpleasant situation:

New toll roads could help relieve congestion on other routes.

More examples

  • Rubbing dock leaves on nettle stings helps to relieve the pain.
  • The routine was the same every day, with nothing to relieve the monotony.
  • There must be some way you can relieve the pain.
  • This cream relieves the swelling caused by insect stings.
  • They removed the blood clot in order to relieve the pressure on her brain.

relieve verb (HELP)

[ T ] to provide relief for a bad situation or for people in need:

emergency food aid to help relieve the famine

[ T ] to take the place of someone and continue doing their job or duties:

I'm on duty until 2 p.m. and then Peter is coming to relieve me.

[ T ] formal to free a place that has been surrounded by an enemy army by military force:

An armoured battalion was sent to relieve the besieged town.

Phrasal verb(s)

(Definition of “relieve” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"relieve" in American English

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relieveverb [ T ]

us /rɪˈliv/

relieve verb [ T ] (LESSEN PAIN)

to make something bad or painful less severe:

The addition to the school will relieve overcrowding.
She was given morphine to relieve the pain.

To relieve yourself is to excrete urine.

relieve verb [ T ] (REPLACE)

to arrive or come in order to take the place of another person:

The guard is relieved at 6 p.m. by the night watchman.

(Definition of “relieve” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"relieve" in Business English

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relieveverb [ T ]

uk /rɪˈliːv/ us

to take action to improve a difficult situation:

If China and other Asian economies let their currencies rise, this will relieve pressure on the euro.
The campaign has fallen short of its goal of relieving the burden of unsustainable debt on the poorest countries.
relieve a burden/strain
relieve congestion/overcrowding Opening the route to truckers would relieve congestion on other roadways.

Phrasal verb(s)

(Definition of “relieve” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)