Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb re·lent \ri-ˈlent\

Simple Definition of relent

  • : to agree to do or accept something that you have been resisting or opposing

  • : to become less severe, harsh, strong, determined, etc.

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of relent

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to become less severe, harsh, or strict usually from reasons of humanity b :  to cease resistance :  give in

  3. 2 :  let up, slacken

  4. transitive verb
  5. obsolete :  soften, mollify

Examples of relent in a sentence

  1. Our application was initially refused, but the city relented in the end and the permit was issued.

  2. They had refused to pay and relented only after being threatened with a lawsuit.

  3. The winds would not relent.

Origin of relent

Middle English, to melt, soften, from Anglo-French relenter, from re- + Latin lentare to bend, from lentus soft, pliant, slow — more at lithe

First Known Use: 1526

Synonym Discussion of relent

yield, submit, capitulate, succumb, relent, defer mean to give way to someone or something that one can no longer resist. yield may apply to any sort or degree of giving way before force, argument, persuasion, or entreaty <yields too easily in any argument>. submit suggests full surrendering after resistance or conflict to the will or control of another <a repentant sinner vowing to submit to the will of God>. capitulate stresses the fact of ending all resistance and may imply either a coming to terms (as with an adversary) or hopelessness in the face of an irresistible opposing force <officials capitulated to the protesters' demands>. succumb implies weakness and helplessness to the one that gives way or an overwhelming power to the opposing force <a stage actor succumbing to the lure of Hollywood>. relent implies a yielding through pity or mercy by one who holds the upper hand <finally relented and let the children stay up late>. defer implies a voluntary yielding or submitting out of respect or reverence for or deference and affection toward another <I defer to your expertise in these matters>.

RELENT Defined for Kids


verb re·lent \ri-ˈlent\

Definition of relent for Students


  1. 1 :  to become less severe, harsh, or strict <The wind relented by evening.>

  2. 2 :  to give in after first resisting or refusing <My dad finally relented and increased my allowance.>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up relent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to expose to danger or risk

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.