clem·​en·​cy | \ ˈkle-mən(t)-sē How to pronounce clemency (audio) \
plural clemencies

Definition of clemency

1a : disposition to be merciful and especially to moderate the severity of punishment due The judge ignored the prisoner's pleas for clemency.
b : an act or instance of leniency The governor's clemencies saved the lives of many death-row prisoners.
2 : pleasant mildness of weather The fair was a great success, owing to the clemency of the weather.

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Choose the Right Synonym for clemency

mercy, charity, clemency, grace, leniency mean a disposition to show kindness or compassion. mercy implies compassion that forbears punishing even when justice demands it. threw himself on the mercy of the court charity stresses benevolence and goodwill shown in broad understanding and tolerance of others. show a little charity for the less fortunate clemency implies a mild or merciful disposition in one having the power or duty of punishing. the judge refused to show clemency grace implies a benign attitude and a willingness to grant favors or make concessions. by the grace of God leniency implies lack of severity in punishing. criticized the courts for excessive leniency

Examples of clemency in a Sentence

The President has granted clemency to several people this month. the judge chose to show clemency to the truly repentant embezzler

Recent Examples on the Web

The week after Kardashian's visit, Johnson was granted clemency, and the White House announced Johnson's sentence would be commuted. Temi Adebowale, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kim Kardashian Is Fighting to Free Convicted Felon Chris Young," 5 Sep. 2018 Her requests for clemency had been rejected by President Barack Obama, who during eight years in office commuted the sentences of hundreds of federal inmates convicted of drug crimes. Darlene Superville, The Seattle Times, "Trump guests include freed drug offender, bullied student," 5 Feb. 2019 But the Midwest Innocence Project said that Jacobs is innocent and plans to petition the governor for clemency. Hannah Grabenstein, The Seattle Times, "Woman sentenced to life as a juvenile released from prison," 17 July 2018 In order to be released, Johnson needs to be granted clemency by the president. Madeleine Aggeler, The Cut, "Mrs. Kardashian West Goes to Washington," 30 May 2018 At the conclusion of her clemency hearing on Wednesday, two board members voted to release her while two others voted to deny her request, according to Tennessee Board of Parole spokeswoman Melissa McDonald. Chris Harris,, "Parole Board Divided on Clemency Plea Cyntoia Brown, Who Killed Man While Being Sex Trafficked as Teen," 24 May 2018 The current process can take a decade or more under the Scott administration's requirement that a state clemency board consider each request during their four meetings a year. Elizabeth Koh, miamiherald, "Here are the 13 constitutional amendments on Florida's 2018 ballot and what they do," 14 June 2018 This marks Trump's sixth act of clemency since taking office. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Who Is Alice Marie Johnson? Kim Kardashian Visited the White House to Discuss Her Case," 6 June 2018 In its place, Scott's administration established a clemency board to review requests by disenfranchised ex-felons. Gregg Re, Fox News, "Florida appeals ruling that state's ex-felon voting ban is illegally enforced," 5 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'clemency.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of clemency

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for clemency

see clement

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Statistics for clemency

Last Updated

27 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for clemency

The first known use of clemency was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for clemency



English Language Learners Definition of clemency

: kind or merciful treatment of someone who could be given harsh punishment


clem·​en·​cy | \ ˈkle-mən-sē How to pronounce clemency (audio) \
plural clemencies

Kids Definition of clemency

2 : an act of mercy


clem·​en·​cy | \ ˈkle-mən-sē How to pronounce clemency (audio) \
plural clemencies

Legal Definition of clemency

1 : willingness or ability to moderate the severity of a punishment (as a sentence)
2 : an act or instance of mercy, compassion, or forgiveness — see also amnesty, commute, pardon, reprieve

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More from Merriam-Webster on clemency

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for clemency

Spanish Central: Translation of clemency

Nglish: Translation of clemency for Spanish Speakers

Comments on clemency

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


a shady place in a garden or forest

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