lenient

adjective
le·​nient | \ ˈlē-nē-ənt How to pronounce lenient (audio) , -nyənt\

Definition of lenient

1 : of mild and tolerant disposition or effect : not harsh, severe, or strict lenient laws a lenient attitude
2 : exerting a soothing or easing influence : relieving pain or stress

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Other Words from lenient

leniently adverb

Did You Know?

Lenient is a word with a soothing history. It derives from the Latin verb lenire, meaning "to soothe" or "to soften" (itself from lenis, meaning "soft or mild"). The first, now archaic, sense of lenient referred to something soothing that relieved pain and stress. That meaning was shared by lenitive, an earlier derivative of lenire that was commonly used with electuary (a "lenitive electuary" being a medicated paste prepared with honey or another sweet and used by veterinarians to alleviate pain in the mouth). Linguists also borrowed lenis to describe speech sounds that are softened—for instance, the "t" sound in gutter is lenis. By way of comparison, the "t" sound in toe is fortis.

Examples of lenient in a Sentence

By giving one more person—the executive—the power to reduce (but not to increase) punishments, our constitutions (both Federal and state) seem to be sending an important message: that in a world in which errors are inevitable, it is better to err on the side of overly lenient, rather than overly harsh, punishment. — Alan M. Dershowitz, New York Times Book Review, 16 July 1989 He could trust himself, he said … to be more lenient than perhaps his father had been to himself; his danger, he said … would be rather in the direction of being too indulgent … — Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh, 1903 But in other points, as well as this, I was growing very lenient to my master: I was forgetting all his faults, for which I had once kept a sharp look-out. — Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, 1847 a teacher who is lenient with students who have misbehaved Many people felt that the punishment was too lenient.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump also said the White House would look closely at the circumstances surrounding a 2007 plea deal overseen by Acosta that a growing number of Democrats argued Tuesday was far too lenient on Epstein. John Wagner, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump praises labor secretary facing growing calls to resign over Epstein sex crimes case," 9 July 2019 If the perception is the NCAA has been lenient on waivers, there’s seemingly an incentive for everyone to take a shot. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Time for NCAA to give football, basketball players one-time pass to transfer," 26 June 2019 Theoretically, there were financial penalties for companies that failed to maintain specified numbers of employees, but such penalties have always been fairly lenient and easy to avoid. Jon Lender, courant.com, "Jon Lender: A Suffield firm got $3.5M in state loans and still went broke. Lamont’s economic chief says he won’t make the same mistake.," 9 Aug. 2019 Yet not all who testified were in favor of more lenient guidelines for dealing with marijuana businesses. Rey Mashayekhi, Fortune, "Pot Execs Testify About Being Shut Out of the Financial System: It’s ‘Federal Chaos’," 24 July 2019 Defense attorney Barry Sweet argued for a more lenient sentence during Thursday’s hearing. Evan Macdonald, cleveland.com, "Driver gets maximum 180 days in jail for Willowick crash that injured two 7-year-old boys," 18 July 2019 Allen received a lenient sentence after testifying for prosecutors against Philip Esformes in a $1 billion Medicare fraud trial. BostonGlobe.com, "Ben Simmons set to receive $170m extension from 76ers," 2 July 2019 But some of the most powerful evidence came from two gang members involved in the attack who testified for the prosecution in return for lenient sentences: Kevin Alvarez, 20, and Michael Reyes, 20. Jan Ransom, New York Times, "‘Junior’ Guzman Killing: 5 Convicted of Hacking Innocent Teenager to Death," 14 June 2019 Tom Plunkett, Noor's attorney, made the case for a lenient sentence saying the victim can't be forgotten but what's best for the community and Noor must also be considered. Steve Karnowski, chicagotribune.com, "Minneapolis cop who shot 911 caller sentenced to 12½ years in prison," 7 June 2019

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

1652, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for lenient

Latin lenient-, leniens, present participle of lenire to soften, soothe, from lenis soft, mild; probably akin to Lithuanian lėnas tranquil — more at let entry 1

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Dictionary Entries near lenient

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lenience

leniency

lenient

lenify

Lenin

Leningrader

Statistics for lenient

Last Updated

2 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for lenient

The first known use of lenient was in 1652

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More Definitions for lenient

lenient

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of lenient

: allowing a lot of freedom and not punishing bad behavior in a strong way : not harsh, severe, or strict

lenient

adjective
le·​nient | \ ˈlē-nē-ənt How to pronounce lenient (audio) , ˈlēn-yənt\

Kids Definition of lenient

: being kind and patient : not strict a lenient teacher

Other Words from lenient

leniently adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on lenient

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lenient

Spanish Central: Translation of lenient

Nglish: Translation of lenient for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lenient for Arabic Speakers

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