The Meaning of Respite: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of respite? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word respite, including its definition, usage, example sentences, and more!

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

What does the word respite mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word respite (pronunciation of respite: ˈrɛspɪt) is a noun that refers to a period of temporary delay or some interval of rest or relief. This word can also be used as a transitive verb to refer to the granting of some temporary relief period, or to put off or delay. This can also  be referred to as a short period of time, interval of relief, temporary cessation, delay of appearances, short period of rest, short delay, interval of temporary relief, rest period, lack of haste, relief from harm or discomfort, or even a 10-minute break from a difficult situation. This word is used in American English, and related words can be formed with different suffixes like ed or ing.

In a legal sense, this refers to the temporary suspension of the execution of a person, or the temporary suspension of the execution of a capital offender. A court or jury might decide to delay a death sentence for a variety of reasons. Respite is the proper term for this. This is the opposite of the execution of a sentence or some imposition of a sentence, and is a prolongation of time in reference to legal time. This delay of appearance to an obligation also addresses questions of due process. 

Many different languages also contain words that mean respite. You may notice that some of these words look and sound similar to the word respite. These are called cognates, which are words and phrases that look and sound similar while also having a similar meaning across languages. These are usually formed when two words have the same root or language of origin. This list of translations for the word respite is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Serbo-Croatian: predah‎
  •  German: Aufschub‎ (masc.), Frist‎ (fem.), Atempause‎ (fem.), Bedenkzeit‎ (fem.)
  •  Finnish: lepotauko‎
  •  Tagalog: hingawas‎
  •  Portuguese: trégua‎ (fem.)
  •  French: répit‎ (masc.)
  •  Catalan: respir‎ (masc.)
  •  Mandarin: 暂缓‎ (zànhuǎn)
  •  Afrikaans: verposing‎
  •  Maori: tānga manawa‎
  •  Dutch: verademing‎
  •  Russian: переды́шка‎ (fem.), отсро́чка‎ (fem.)
  •  Scottish Gaelic: faochadh‎ (masc.)
  •  Italian: tregua‎ (fem.)
  •  Arabic: متنفس‎ (masc.)
  •  Swedish: andrum‎ (neut.)

What is the origin of the word respite?

According to Etymonline, the word respite has been used since the mid-13th century in Middle English as a noun. This comes from the Old French respit (in Modern French répit) meaning to delay or respect. This comes from the Latin respectus, which literally refers to the act of looking back at a person. This is the noun use of the past participle of respicere. The Latin respicere means to regard or consider, from the prefix re meaning back and specere meaning to look at. This comes from Proto-Indo-European roots, namely spek, meaning to observe. Related words include respect and respective. 

How can the word respite be used in a sentence? 

There are many different ways that the word respite can be used in a sentence. Below are many examples of respite. 

The actress was excited for her favorite adventure getaway after the acting gig she was toiling over – she needed some good celebrity respite and good food on the winter break.

A neurotypical person will not understand the same mental challenges autistics face, and the respite they need to recharge after overstimulation.

The throned president’s favorite place of respite was an Old West saloon in rural Idaho. He loved going unnoticed. 

The citizens were granted three days’ respite from the gales and rain; everyone had a temporary intermission of labor and went down to the lake. Even the weathermen yesterday found a temporary replacement.

The workers in the chambers couldn’t get a single moment’s respite from the pests; they were covered in bugs from head to toe.

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word respite?

There are many different words that a person can use in place of the word respite. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that mean the same thing as a given word or phrase. Synonyms are useful to know if you are trying to expand your vocabulary or avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word respite is provided by Thesaurus.

  • stop
  •  exculpation
  •  stay
  •  downtime
  •  truce
  •  lull
  •  adjournment
  •  rest
  •  ease
  •  interregnum
  •  relaxation
  •  delay
  •  pause
  •  letup
  •  cessation
  •  acquittal
  •  time
  •  interruption
  •  break
  •  immunity
  •  pardon
  •  recess
  •  breathing space
  •  intermission
  •  postponement
  •  halt
  •  time out
  •  moratorium
  •  interval
  •  deliverance
  •  discharge
  •  deferment
  •  hiatus
  •  reprieve
  •  deadlock
  •  ten
  •  coffee break
  •  forgiveness
  •  five
  •  protraction
  •  relief
  •  breather
  •  breath
  •  layoff
  •  release
  •  leisure
  •  suspension
  •  refuge
  •  abatement

There are also many different words that mean the opposite of the word respite. These opposite words are called antonyms. Antonyms are another great way to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word respite is also provided by Thesaurus.

  • chastening
  •  sanction
  •  maltreatment
  •  what for
  •  penalty
  •  mortification
  •  punishment
  •  forfeiture
  •  just desserts
  •  abuse
  •  mulct
  •  short shrift
  •  chastisement
  •  castigation
  •  beating
  •  correction
  •  rod
  •  penance
  •  trial
  •  comeuppance
  •  slave labor
  •  victimization
  •  purgatory
  •  gallows
  •  pain
  •  disciplinary action
  •  retribution
  •  proof
  •  torture
  •  confiscation
  •  suffering
  •  sequestration
  •  discipline
  •  amercement
  •  ostracism
  •  rough treatment
  •  unhappiness
  •  forfeit
  •  hard work
  •  deprivation
  •  reparation
  •  punitive measures
  •  infliction
  •  lumps

Overall, the word respite refers to some period of temporary delay or an interval of rest or relief. This could refer to a vacation or brief period of rest, or it can be used in a legal sense to refer to the temporary suspension of the execution of some Capital offender. 


  1. respite: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. RESPITE Synonyms: 57 Synonyms & Antonyms for RESPITE | Thesaurus 
  3. PUNISHMENT Synonyms: 50 Synonyms & Antonyms for PUNISHMENT | Thesaurus 
  4. Respite | Definition of Respite | Merriam-Webster 
  5. respite | Origin and meaning of respite | Online Etymology Dictionary