le·​nien·​cy | \ ˈlē-nē-ən(t)-sē How to pronounce leniency (audio) , -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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

That ruling relieved the government of its obligations under the deal, including any leniency in exchange for his cooperation in Mr. Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Aruna Viswanatha, WSJ, "Paul Manafort Committed ‘Bold’ Crimes, Mueller’s Team Says," 23 Feb. 2019 In trials attended by the AP last year, Kurdish authorities showed leniency toward the mostly Arab suspects in a bid to build bridges with the majority Arab population. Sarah El Deeb, The Seattle Times, "Syrian group wants international tribunal for IS detainees," 25 Mar. 2019 The judge received numerous letters of support and character references asking for leniency on their behalf. Ashley Luthern, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Five people, 62 credit cards, and a nationwide fraud scheme stopped by Milwaukee investigators," 3 Apr. 2018 Lengthening probation for people who violate it Two bills would undo some of the leniency the criminal justice package gave to nonviolent offenders who violate parole. Julia O'donoghue, NOLA.com, "Louisiana lawmakers introduced bills to chip away at criminal justice overhaul: Here's a list," 20 Mar. 2018 Instead of information about the planet's changing geophysical status, users can find letters to creditors asking for leniency for NOAA employees falling behind on payments. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Government Shutdown Is Messing with North," 15 Jan. 2019 Thousands have taken to the streets of Peru in protest and three rival national team captains have signed a letter calling for leniency in the case of the Peruvian forward Paolo Guerrero. Henry Young, CNN, "Paolo Guerrero's shattered World Cup dream prompts calls for anti-doping reform," 22 May 2018 But on Twitter Monday, the president objected to Cohen’s lawyers requesting leniency in his sentencing based on his cooperation with multiple federal investigations. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Trump attacks Michael Cohen and praises Roger Stone in anti-Mueller tweets," 3 Dec. 2018 Green shouldn’t get the leniency to yell at officials that other players aren’t granted. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "Draymond Green's outbursts at officials have hilariously inspired Channing Frye," 6 June 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.

See More

First Known Use of leniency

1753, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about leniency

Dictionary Entries near leniency








Statistics for leniency

Last Updated

12 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for leniency

The first known use of leniency was in 1753

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on leniency

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for leniency

Spanish Central: Translation of leniency

Nglish: Translation of leniency for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of leniency for Arabic Speakers

Comments on leniency

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


using a distributed computer network

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!