The noun relief means "the act of reducing something unpleasant," like medicine that brings relief from your terrible headache.

Relief has several meanings. It can refer to help or assistance, like disaster relief, or a change for the better: it was a relief when you finally found your car keys. Relief also means "someone who takes the place of another," like a relief pitcher who steps in to finish the game. A relief is also a type of sculpture with shapes carved to stand out from the background.

Definitions of relief
  1. noun
    the act of reducing something unpleasant (as pain or annoyance)
    “he asked the nurse for relief from the constant pain”
    synonyms: alleviation, easement, easing
    see moresee less
    show 5 types...
    hide 5 types...
    the relaxation or relief of muscle spasms
    the easing of tensions or strained relations (especially between nations)
    easing the severity of a pain or a disease without removing the cause
    liberalisation, liberalization, relaxation
    the act of making less strict
    decompressing, decompression
    relieving pressure (especially bringing a compressed person gradually back to atmospheric pressure)
    type of:
    decrease, diminution, reduction, step-down
    the act of decreasing or reducing something
  2. noun
    the condition of being comfortable or relieved (especially after being relieved of distress)
    “he enjoyed his relief from responsibility”
    synonyms: ease
    see moresee less
    reprieve, respite
    a (temporary) relief from harm or discomfort
    type of:
    comfort, comfortableness
    a state of being relaxed and feeling no pain
  3. noun
    the feeling that comes when something burdensome is removed or reduced
    “as he heard the news he was suddenly flooded with relief
    synonyms: alleviation, assuagement
    see moresee less
    type of:
    a feeling of freedom from worry or disappointment
  4. noun
    the act of freeing a city or town that has been besieged
    “he asked for troops for the relief of Atlanta”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    freeing, liberation, release
    the act of liberating someone or something
  5. noun
    a pause for relaxation
    synonyms: respite, rest, rest period
    see moresee less
    breath, breather, breathing place, breathing space, breathing spell, breathing time
    a short respite
    type of:
    break, intermission, interruption, pause, suspension
    a time interval during which there is a temporary cessation of something
  6. noun
    a change for the better
    synonyms: easing, moderation
    see moresee less
    something that extricates you from embarrassment
    breath of fresh air
    a welcome relief
    type of:
    alteration, change, modification
    an event that occurs when something passes from one state or phase to another
  7. noun
    assistance in time of difficulty
    “the contributions provided some relief for the victims”
    synonyms: ministration, succor, succour
    see moresee less
    comfort, consolation, solace
    the act of consoling; giving relief in affliction
    alleviation of distress; showing great kindness toward the distressed
    type of:
    aid, assist, assistance, help
    the activity of contributing to the fulfillment of a need or furtherance of an effort or purpose
  8. noun
    aid for the aged or indigent or handicapped
    “he has been on relief for many years”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    public assistance, social welfare, welfare
    governmental provision of economic assistance to persons in need
  9. noun
    (law) redress awarded by a court
    “was the relief supposed to be protection from future harm or compensation for past injury?”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    amends, damages, indemnification, indemnity, redress, restitution
    a sum of money paid in compensation for loss or injury
  10. noun
    someone who takes the place of another (as when things get dangerous or difficult)
    synonyms: backup, backup man, fill-in, reliever, stand-in, substitute
    see moresee less
    locum, locum tenens
    someone (physician or clergyman) who substitutes temporarily for another member of the same profession
    double, stunt man, stunt woman
    a stand-in for movie stars to perform dangerous stunts
    alternate, replacement, surrogate
    someone who takes the place of another person
    type of:
    compeer, equal, match, peer
    a person who is of equal standing with another in a group
  11. noun
    sculpture consisting of shapes carved on a surface so as to stand out from the surrounding background
    synonyms: embossment, relievo, rilievo, sculptural relief
    see moresee less
    alto relievo, alto rilievo, high relief
    a sculptural relief in which forms extend out from the background to at least half their depth
    bas relief, basso relievo, basso rilievo, low relief
    a sculptural relief in which forms extend only slightly from the background; no figures are undercut
    half-relief, mezzo-relievo, mezzo-rilievo
    a sculptural relief between low relief and high relief
    type of:
    a three-dimensional work of plastic art
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week