relief (n.1)

late 14c., "alleviation of distress, hunger, sickness, etc; state of being relieved; that which mitigates or removes" (pain, grief, evil, etc.)," from Anglo-French relif, from Old French relief "assistance," literally "a raising, that which is lifted;" from stressed stem of relever (see relieve).

The meaning "aid to impoverished persons" is attested from c. 1400, from 19c. especially of assistance by governments; that of "deliverance of a besieged town" is from c. 1400. The word was used earlier in English as "that which is left over or left behind," also "feudal payment to an overlord made by an heir upon taking possession of an estate" (both c. 1200).

relief (n.2)

in sculpture, architecture, etc., "projection of figure or design from the flat surface on which it is formed," c. 1600, from French relief, from Italian rilievo, from rilevare "to raise," from Latin relevare "to raise, lighten" (see relieve). In physical geography, "the form of the surface of any part of the earth" (by 1842), especially in relief map.

Model Mapping.—The plan of representing countries in relief is gaining ground, particularly in Germany. [William Richard Hamilton, president's address to the Royal Geographical Society of London, May 23, 1842]

updated on June 25, 2021

Definitions of relief from WordNet

relief (n.)
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
relief (n.)
the condition of being comfortable or relieved (especially after being relieved of distress);
he enjoyed his relief from responsibility
Synonyms: ease
relief (n.)
(law) redress awarded by a court;
was the relief supposed to be protection from future harm or compensation for past injury?
relief (n.)
someone who takes the place of another (as when things get dangerous or difficult);
Synonyms: stand-in / substitute / reliever / backup / backup man / fill-in
relief (n.)
assistance in time of difficulty;
the contributions provided some relief for the victims
Synonyms: succor / succour / ministration
relief (n.)
a pause for relaxation;
Synonyms: respite / rest / rest period
relief (n.)
a change for the better;
Synonyms: easing / moderation
relief (n.)
aid for the aged or indigent or handicapped;
he has been on relief for many years
relief (n.)
the act of reducing something unpleasant (as pain or annoyance);
he asked the nurse for relief from the constant pain
Synonyms: easing / easement / alleviation
relief (n.)
sculpture consisting of shapes carved on a surface so as to stand out from the surrounding background;
Synonyms: relievo / rilievo / embossment / sculptural relief
relief (n.)
the act of freeing a city or town that has been besieged;
he asked for troops for the relief of Atlanta
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