Take the following headlines I've found online:

1) Seniors relieved at temporary reprieve for community center.

2) Egypt relieved at decision to lift crowd ban in Ghana World Cup qualifier.

I would have said "relieved from" if I had written these. Could anyone help me understand the difference between the prepositions "at" and "from" in this context?


In the construction "X is relieved from Y", relieved acts as a verb and signifies that the “burden” of Y is lifted off of X. The same thing is expressed with the preposition "of".

The commanding officer was relieved from duty.
An unexpected inheritance relieved William of his debts.

In the construction "X is relieved at Y", relieved acts as an adjective and signifies that X feels a ‘sense of relief’, a sense that a burden of anxiety has been lifted off of him, because Y happened. That is the case in your headlines:

Seniors feel a sense of relief because the community center gained a 'reprieve' (presumably the center was going to be closed, but the closure was temporarily cancelled).

Egypt feels less anxious because it has been decided that crowds will not be banned in the Ghana World Cup qualifier.

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  • 1
    Thanks for the nice examples. It was good examples what I was lacking to express the answer lucidly.+1 for the nice and easy-to-understand post. – Mistu4u Sep 25 '13 at 17:48
  • For completeness's sake, the use of the word in the sense "A robber relieved William of his wallet" is fairly common as well. Perhaps this is a sort of sarcastic usage of Stoney's "relieved William of his debts." – BobRodes Sep 26 '13 at 13:53
  • @BobRodes That's exactly what it is. Relieve goes back to L levis, "light (weight)", and becomes "raise" in the senes of lifting or lightening a burden. – StoneyB on hiatus Sep 26 '13 at 14:03
  • Yes, sarcastic because one doesn't typically consider one's wallet to be a burden, except perhaps in inverse proportion to the amount of money in it. :) – BobRodes Sep 26 '13 at 15:31

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