1570s, reprive, "take back to prison," alteration (perhaps by influence of reprove) of Middle English repryen "to remand, detain" (late 15c.), probably from French repris, past participle of reprendre "take back" (see reprise). Meaning "to suspend an impending execution" is recorded from 1590s; this sense evolved probably because being sent back to prison was the alternative to execution. Spelling with -ie- is from 1640s, perhaps by analogy of achieve, etc. Related: Reprieved; reprieving.
1590s, "suspension of the execution of a criminal's sentence," from reprieve (v.). By 1630s in a general sense of "respite or temporary escape."
updated on July 14, 2021