When we want to mean

" lessen the intensity of the feelings"

,we often use the phase

"calm someone down".

However,a few days ago, I heard somebody say something like this

‘‘Ever after my mom passed away,my feelings of missing her often make me shed tears. The only way to relieve my feelings is frequent that shop,where we used to go for dinner. In this way, I not only recall those invaluable days but also hold my feelings back.’’

But,"relieve my feelings" really sounds odd. So,can you tell me whether it is correct?and why? In addition,I have asked some English native speakers and English teachers in Asia. The people living in U.S think it sounds okay but should be used for sports,the people living in UK think it is quite unnatural,and the English teachers think relieve should not be followed by feelings and that relieve should be used for stress. Also,I can find out the phrase in this site which even gives some reference in literature:https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/relieve+your+feelings

But,why do some people think it is unnatural and some think it is okay? Does the answer to this question change by locations or areas? These series of questions about relieve feelings certainly confuse me for a long time. So, I really need someone for help.😥

  • Consider "relieve the pressure" or "relieve the pain". The idiom is well-understood in the US.
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 2, 2018 at 14:06
  • @HotLicks so,you think relieve someone's feelings is acceptable, right?
    – Chang yo
    Sep 2, 2018 at 14:45
  • Personally, I don't think relieving my feelings usually refers to finding solace. It's more likely to refer to a more cathartic sort of action, like taking a bunch of guns down to the levee and blasting cans for 30 minutes, or splitting wood with an axe. I'm not sure what the city-dweller's equivalent would be.
    – Phil Sweet
    Sep 2, 2018 at 15:56
  • @PhilSweet Eh…your description is very vivid. It is urination, right? I heard some living in UK say the same meaning. So, that's why I think this phrase might be related to the locations.
    – Chang yo
    Sep 2, 2018 at 16:13

3 Answers 3


Sorry, but I do not accept: "to relieve feelings", semantically, except with a caveat (see my last paragraph).

Yes, one relieves stress, pressure, anxiety, fear etc. but not feelings. You can relieve feelings of anxiety yes. Feelings has to be followed by something that one wants to relieve or find relief from.

Feelings are "things we have" or "don't have". So, you can't "relieve them". And if you have negative feelings about some situation, you can, however, "relieve your pain, anxiety, fear, etc." And you can "relieve feelings of pain, anxiety, sadness, etc."

In any event, this has nothing whatsoever to do with British or American English. A person may seek to relieve types of feelings but not the feeling(s) themselves.

  • to relieve the feeling of [emotion: sadness, fear, etc.]
  • to relieve feelings of [emotion: sadness, fear, etc.]

But not: relieve feelings, without qualifying them.

The example cited contains the idea of "relieve feelings of missing her". Often, people speak in ways that are coherent with speech in written text. To the person's credit, they did qualify the feelings earlier in the speech.

This is a typical speech feature issue, where spontaneous speech patterns are not always "by the book". One would not criticize someone who says that as given in that paragraph, but if one is writing, one would not use it like that.

Many questions on this site do not make the distinction between written speech and spontaneous speech. Spontaneous speech has features which are very different from what one would find in an essay or in more formal expression.

Finally, we use the verb relieve like this: He was relieved to hear that his paper had been accepted by the academic journal.

They were relieved to hear there had not been a storm.

In those two sentences, feelings are involved but they are not mentioned explicitly.


The expression is correct. To relieve an emotion or feeling is to make it less strong.

(MAKE BETTER) to make an unpleasant feeling, such as pain or worry, less strong:

She was given a shot of morphine to relieve the pain. She relieved her boredom at home by learning how to type.

Relieve (Cambridge Dictionary)

  • Actually, I asked some English native speakers and English teachers in Asia
    – Chang yo
    Sep 2, 2018 at 11:33
  • The people living in U.S think it sounds okay but should be used for sports,the people living in UK think it is quite unnatural,and the English teachers think relieve should not be followed by feelings and that relieve should be used for stress. Does the answer to this question change by locations?
    – Chang yo
    Sep 2, 2018 at 11:46
  • I don't know about anywhere else, but I am a native British English speaker, and to talk about "relieving feelings" (usually one's own) is perfectly normal and acceptable. One can relieve feelings, stress, pressure, anxiety, fear, etc, etc etc. Sep 2, 2018 at 13:57
  • @MichaelHarvey In that case,when do you use"relieve someone's feelings"?You think the usage of it in my question is okay,right?
    – Chang yo
    Sep 2, 2018 at 14:21
  • What don't you understand about my comment, or my answer? Sep 2, 2018 at 14:30

the idiom relieve (someone or oneself) of (something) can apply here. TFD

  1. To remove or lessen a burden on someone or oneself.

As in:

Going to that shop we used to go for dinner relieves my feelings.

Or rephrased:

Going to the shop we frequented together helps relieve my feelings of stress and assuage my anxiety.

In AmE, this is acceptable and is an idiomatic use of the phrase.

  • But,we can't just use"relieve someone's feelings". We need to put more clear characters behind the feelings, right?
    – Chang yo
    Sep 2, 2018 at 15:06
  • We can use "relieve someone's feelings". Or relieve one's own feelings. It is a normal expression. I was anxious because I could not find my dog, but my mother relieved my feelings when she said it was at my sister's house. Sep 2, 2018 at 15:42
  • How about adding this def from your link? "relieve your feelings use strong language or vigorous behaviour when annoyed. See also: feeling, relieve" - For Farlex Dictionary of Idioms: relieve. (n.d.) Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. (2015). Retrieved September 2 2018 from idioms.thefreedictionary.com/relieve
    – Phil Sweet
    Sep 2, 2018 at 16:04
  • And have an +1 to offset the driveby.
    – Phil Sweet
    Sep 2, 2018 at 16:09
  • @MichaelHarvey Well, I got you. Can it be used for the feelings of"miss someone" to you?
    – Chang yo
    Sep 2, 2018 at 16:15

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