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In receipt of assistance, financial or otherwise, from publicly or privately funded agencies (most often government-run), due to a certain level of hardship, poverty, or need. It was really disheartening having to go on relief these past six months, but it was the only thing that kept our family afloat after I lost my job. Some people are very critical of those who have been on relief for extended periods of time.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
Also, on welfare; on the dole. Receiving public financial assistance, as in Half the people in this town are on relief, or Don hated the idea of going on welfare. The first two terms originated in the United States in the 1930s, when government assistance of this kind was first instituted. On the dole, used mainly in Britain but occasionally in America, dates from the 1920s, although the use of dole for a charitable gift dates from about 1200.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Receiving public assistance because of need or poverty.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.