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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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.
Recent Examples of lenient from the Web
The protesters chanted anti-American and anti-Pakistani slogans, demanded execution of militant inmates and accused the government of being too lenient in the fight against the insurgents.
In Saudi Arabia, where, according to official accounts and experts, women have played an active role in recruiting and planning attacks, the kingdom’s harsh penal system has been unusually lenient.
The U.S., Nicaragua, who felt as though the emissions guidelines were too lenient, and, way for it, Syria.
Miss Manners is inclined to be lenient on the mechanics of the situation as long as there is an understanding that any previously unspecified listeners are always announced.
A California prosecutor says a man convicted of raping a relative received a sentence that is too lenient, comparing the monthslong jail term to the case of former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner.
The settlements in those cases will amount to about $3,000 each, which is probably a more lenient agreement than settlements to come, Sherman said.
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.
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.
LENIENT Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of lenient for English Language Learners
: allowing a lot of freedom and not punishing bad behavior in a strong way : not harsh, severe, or strict
LENIENT Defined for Kids
Definition of lenient for Students
: being kind and patient : not strict a lenient teacher
Seen and Heard
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