noun clem·en·cy \ ˈkle-mən(t)-sē \
Updated on: 14 Feb 2018

Definition of clemency

plural clemencies
1 a : 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.

Examples of clemency in a Sentence

  1. The President has granted clemency to several people this month.

  2. the judge chose to show clemency to the truly repentant embezzler

Recent Examples of clemency from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of clemency

Synonym Discussion of 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

CLEMENCY Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of clemency for English Language Learners

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

CLEMENCY Defined for Kids


noun clem·en·cy \ ˈkle-mən-sē \

Definition of clemency for Students

plural clemencies
1 : mercy 1
2 : an act of mercy

Law Dictionary


noun clem·en·cy \ ˈkle-mən-sē \

legal Definition of clemency

plural clemencies
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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