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.

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 Earlier in the session, with a conviction all but certain, an emotional Griner made a final appeal to the court for leniency. Jim Heintz, Anchorage Daily News, 4 Aug. 2022 Prior to the guilty verdict and sentencing, Griner apologized and asked for leniency in an emotional speech during a hearing on Thursday, as her drug trial officially concluded. Safire R. Sostre, Essence, 4 Aug. 2022 Griner’s lawyers in Russia, previously advocated for leniency in a statement. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, 4 Aug. 2022 Earlier in the session, with a conviction all but certain, an emotional Ms. Griner made a final appeal to the court for leniency. Jim Heintz, The Christian Science Monitor, 4 Aug. 2022 The defense sought leniency and a sentence of time served, while federal prosecutors in Manhattan said Parnas deserved eight years in prison. Aaron Katersky, ABC News, 29 June 2022 Before the men were sentenced, defense lawyers sought leniency. Los Angeles Times, 7 Jan. 2022 Robert Dixon, McWilliams’ attorney, sought leniency. John Caniglia, cleveland, 9 Nov. 2021 Defense attorney Michael Dolan sought leniency, emphasizing that Cabrera has no criminal record. Don Stacom, courant.com, 10 June 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of leniency

1753, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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The first known use of leniency was in 1753

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Last Updated

10 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Leniency.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leniency. Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on leniency

Nglish: Translation of leniency for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of leniency for Arabic Speakers


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