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 Scott’s administration has already filed an appeal, insisting that Florida clemency rules should be determined by the people elected by Floridians and not federal judges. Perry Chiaramonte | Fox News, Fox News, "Florida felons are latest point of contention in fight for battleground state's votes," 19 Apr. 2018 Then Washington turns around and grants them clemency. Karin Wulf, Smithsonian Magazine, "The President’s Cabinet Was an Invention of America’s First President," 7 Apr. 2020 DeWine said the Parole Board will begin meeting Friday to consider whether to recommend that the governor grant clemency to each of the 26 inmates. Jeremy Pelzer, cleveland, "‘Coingate’ convict Tom Noe among Ohio inmates Gov. Mike DeWine wants to release early amid coronavirus fears," 7 Apr. 2020 President Trump, for instance, granted clemency to Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was acquitted of murder last year but convicted of a lesser war crime. Helene Cooper, New York Times, "The Navy Fired the Captain of the Theodore Roosevelt. See How the Crew Responded.," 3 Apr. 2020 If he's not granted clemency, Sutton will become the 1,156th person to be executed in the United States since 1976. Tyler Kendall, CBS News, "He has four murder convictions. His victims' families don't want him to die on death row.," 20 Feb. 2020 For Taylor, the plea deal offered a faster and more assured route to freedom, as opposed to going through years of new court proceedings or hoping a governor would grant him clemency. Lauren Castle, azcentral, "U.S. Supreme Court denies Arizona man's petition to seek damages for 'wrongful conviction'," 23 Mar. 2020 After 10 years of challenging her verdict, she was eventually granted clemency. Lindsay Denninger,, "There Are So, So Many New Documentaries Coming To Netflix," 21 Mar. 2020 President Trump granted clemency to 11 white-collar criminals yesterday in an extraordinary flex of his post-impeachment presidential power. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, "5 things to know for February 19: Trump pardons, Dems, coronavirus, DOJ, Cameroon," 19 Feb. 2020

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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Time Traveler for clemency

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for clemency

Last Updated

7 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Clemency.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for clemency


How to pronounce clemency (audio)

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

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