Etymology
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release (n.)

early 14c., relēs, "abatement of distress; means of deliverance," from Old French relais, reles (12c.), a back-formation from relesser, relaissier "to relinquish, quit, let go, leave behind, abandon, acquit" (see release (v.)). In law, mid-14c., "transferring of property or a right to another;" late 14c. as "release from an obligation; remission of a duty, tribute, etc."

In archery, the meaning "act and manner of releasing" (a bow, etc.) is from 1871. The sense of "action of publication" is from 1907; as "a news item or official statement (to the press)" is by 1927. The meaning "action of making a film available to theaters" is from 1912, later of musical recordings, etc. The sense of "written authorization or permission for publication" is by 1965.

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release (v.)

c. 1300, relēsen, "to withdraw, revoke (a decree, etc.), cancel, lift; remit," from Old French relaissier, relesser "to relinquish, quit, let go, leave behind, abandon, acquit," variant of relacher "release, relax," from Latin relaxare "loosen, stretch out" (from re- "back" (see re-) + laxare "loosen," from PIE root *sleg- "be slack, be languid"). Latin relaxare is the source also of Spanish relajar, Italian relassare, and English relax, and the uncle of relish.

Meaning "alleviate, ease" is mid-14c., as is sense of "set free from (duty, etc.); exonerate." From late 14c. as "grant remission, forgive; set free from imprisonment, military service, etc." Also "give up, relinquish, surrender." In law, c. 1400, "to grant a release of property." Of press reports, attested from 1904; of motion pictures from 1912; of music recordings from 1962. As a euphemism for "to dismiss, fire from a job" it is attested in American English since 1904. Related: Released; releasing.

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pre-release (adj.)

"of the period before the date fixed for release," 1916, in reference to motion pictures, from pre- + release (n.). As a noun, "a film or record available on a limited basis before general release," by 1919. As a verb, "to release on a limited basis before the date fixed for release," by 1917 (implied in pre-released).

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rerelease (v.)

also re-release, "to release (a motion picture, song, record, etc.) again or anew," by 1948, from re- "again" + release (v.). Related: Rereleased; rereleasing. Also as a noun, "a new release."

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relax (v.)

late 14c., relaxen, "to make (something) less compact or dense" (transitive), originally especially in medicine, of muscles, etc., from Old French relaschier "set free; soften; reduce" (14c.) and directly from Latin relaxare "relax, loosen, open, stretch out, widen again; make loose," from re- "back" (see re-) + laxare "loosen," from laxus "loose" (from PIE root *sleg- "be slack, be languid"). A doublet of release.

Meaning "decrease tension" is from early 15c. From 1660s as "to make less severe or rigorous." Intransitive sense of "become loose or languid" is by 1762; that of "become less tense" is recorded from 1935. Of persons, "to become less formal," by 1837. Related: Relaxed; relaxing. As a noun, "relaxation, an act of relaxing," from 17c.

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lease (v.)

late 15c., "to take a lease," from Anglo-French lesser (13c.), Old French laissier "to let, let go, let out, leave" "to let, allow, permit; bequeath, leave," from Latin laxare "loosen, open, make wide," from laxus "loose" (from PIE root *sleg- "be slack, be languid"). Medial -x- in Latin tends to become -ss- or -s- in French (compare cuisse from coxa). The Latin verb also is the source of Spanish laxar; Italian lasciare "leave," lassare "loosen."

Compare release (v.). Meaning "to grant the temporary possession of at a fixed rate" is from 1560s. Related: Leased; leasing. The form has been influenced by the noun, and the modern sense of "to take a lease" might be a new 19c. formation. Lessor, lessee in contract language preserve the Anglo-French vowel.

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*sleg- 

*slēg-, also *lēg-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "be slack, be languid."

It forms all or part of: algolagnia; catalectic; laches; languid; languish; lax; lease; lessor; lush; relax; release; relish; slack (adj.); sleep.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek legein "to leave off, stop," lagnein "to lust;" Latin languere "to be faint, weary," laxus "wide, spacious, roomy;" Old Church Slavonic slabu "lax, weak;" Lithuanian silpnas "weak."

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enlargement (n.)

1530s, "a release from confinement," from enlarge in the secondary Middle English sense "release a prisoner" (mid-15c.) + -ment. Meaning "act of increasing in size" is from 1560s. Photographic sense "picture of a larger size than the negative from which it was made" is from 1866.

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unhand (v.)

c. 1600, "to release from one's grasp," from un- (2) "opposite of" + hand (v.).

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preview (n.)

"a foretaste," 1880, from preview (v.); specifically "a showing of a book, film, etc. before public release" by 1920.

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