unrelieved by


His eyes, peering ahead over the fender, saw only the long, bleak line of pavement, unrelieved by grass boulevards, hard and forbidding.
Slan by Van Vogt, Alfred Elton
unrelieved by decorative or other features; bare, empty, or plain

I don't understand the word "unrelieved" in this use. I see it in a general sense - line of pavement with no grass boulevards, hard and forbidding; or - something with no decorative or other features. But what this word itself means in this context - I don't understand. Unrelieved from what?

Thank you.
  • dadane

    Senior Member
    English (London/Essex)
    It could actually have two meanings: 1. There was a bleak line of pavement which did not have grass boulevards to 'relieve' it or, 2. There was a bleak line of pavement and the grass boulevards failed to 'relieve' the bleakness. This is written in AE but I am interpreting it in BE, remember that 'pavement' has a very different meaning in each, an AE speaker may see it differently.


    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I would read it as Dadane's #1 explanation. "Relieve" is often used, when describing the appearance of something, to mean "break" (a straight line) or "soften" (a severe look). You might see it used that way, sometimes, in descriptions of clothing or architectural design.
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