Alternative formsEdit


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.[2] Compare to Latin privare.


  • IPA(key): /ɹɪˈpɹiːv/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: re‧prieve


reprieve (third-person singular simple present reprieves, present participle reprieving, simple past and past participle reprieved)

  1. (transitive) To cancel or postpone the punishment of someone, especially an execution.
  2. (transitive) To bring relief to someone.
    • (Can we date this quote by South and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      Company [] may reprieve a man from his melancholy, yet it cannot secure him from his conscience.
  3. (transitive, obsolete) To take back to prison (in lieu of execution).

Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit


reprieve (plural reprieves)

  1. The cancellation or postponement of a punishment.
  2. A document authorizing such an action.
  3. Relief from pain etc., especially temporary.
    • 2015 February 24, Daniel Taylor, “Luis Suárez strikes twice as Barcelona teach Manchester City a lesson”, in The Guardian (London)[1]:
      Yet it was not easy, on the balance of play, to be convinced by Pellegrini and his defeated players that the reprieve might somehow be a defining moment over the two legs.



  1. ^ "reprive" Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary. 1913. G. & C. Merriam Co.
  2. ^ reprieve” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2020.