le·​nien·​cy | \ˈlē-nē-ən(t)-sē, -nyən(t)-sē\
plural leniencies

Definition of leniency 

1 : the quality or state of being lenient the leniency of the punishment

2 : a lenient disposition or practice The prisoner asked the judge for leniency.

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Choose the Right Synonym for leniency

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 leniency in a Sentence

the defense requested leniency in light of their client's lack of a prior criminal record

Recent Examples on the Web

Some say the abuse scandal has been exploited by people who oppose the pope’s calls for expansive immigration policies, his warnings about economic inequality and global warming as well as his leniency on divorce. Ryan Dube, WSJ, "Pope Francis’ Handling of Sex-Abuse Cases Fractures a Catholic Stronghold," 19 Oct. 2018 But authorities took the unusual step of seeking leniency in his case after prosecutors credited him with having a change of heart and secretly contacting the FBI to offer valuable intelligence. Washington Post, "Hundreds charged in health-care fraud sting," 29 June 2018 The emphasis is on leniency and reconciliation — in marked contrast to Iraq, where harsh and swift verdicts on IS suspects seem geared to vengeance. Sarah El Deeb, Fox News, "Syria's Kurds put IS on trial with focus on reconciliation," 8 May 2018 In China, where convictions in high-profile trials are typically foregone conclusions, defendants are expected to express remorse to get any leniency in sentencing. Chun Han Wong, WSJ, "One-Time Potential Rival to China’s Xi Pleads Guilty to Corruption," 12 Apr. 2018 Family and friends of Chu also addressed the judge and the victims, asking for leniency and apologizing for the situation. Kelsey Mo, azcentral, "Stanley Chu sentenced to 15-year prison term for fatal 2016 crash in Tempe," 13 July 2018 Even Channing Frye thought the leniency Green was being shown got ridiculous. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "The NBA Referees finally explained why Draymond Green didn't get a 2nd technical," 7 June 2018 Senator Marco Rubio and other lawmakers from both parties have questioned Trump’s leniency toward ZTE, arguing the company represents a security risk. Bloomberg.com, "China Says All Trade Progress Is Off If U.S. Imposes Tariffs," 3 June 2018 Republican Senator Marco Rubio and other lawmakers from both parties have criticized Trump’s leniency toward ZTE, arguing that doing business with the company presents a risk to national security. Fortune, "China Strikes Back at Trump's 'Flip-Flop' on Tariffs as Trade Spat Heats Up," 30 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'leniency.' 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 leniency

1753, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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Statistics for leniency

Last Updated

24 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for leniency

The first known use of leniency was in 1753

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More from Merriam-Webster on leniency

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Spanish Central: Translation of leniency

Nglish: Translation of leniency for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of leniency for Arabic Speakers

Comments on leniency

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a nest or breeding place

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