Definition of reprieve
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.
reprieve (third-person singular simple present reprieves, present participle reprieving, simple past and past participle reprieved)
- (transitive) To cancel or postpone the punishment of someone, especially an execution.
- (transitive) To bring relief to someone.
- (transitive, obsolete) To take back to prison (in lieu of execution).
reprieve (plural reprieves)
- The cancellation or postponement of a punishment.
- A document authorizing such an action.
- Relief from pain etc., especially temporary.
In criminal proceedings, the act of postponing the enforcement of a sentence, particularly a death sentence, to allow an appeal.
A reprieve is the temporary postponement of punishment.
This term differs subtly from country-to-country, but generally:
Reprieve: Temporary postponement of a punishment, usually so that the accused can mount an appeal (especially if he or she has been sentenced to death)
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