re·​lent | \ ri-ˈlent How to pronounce relent (audio) \
relented; relenting; relents

Definition of relent

intransitive verb

1a : to become less severe, harsh, or strict usually from reasons of humanity
b : to cease resistance : give in

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Choose the Right Synonym for relent

yield, submit, capitulate, succumb, relent, defer mean to give way to someone or something that one can no longer resist. yield may apply to any sort or degree of giving way before force, argument, persuasion, or entreaty. yields too easily in any argument submit suggests full surrendering after resistance or conflict to the will or control of another. a repentant sinner vowing to submit to the will of God capitulate stresses the fact of ending all resistance and may imply either a coming to terms (as with an adversary) or hopelessness in the face of an irresistible opposing force. officials capitulated to the protesters' demands succumb implies weakness and helplessness to the one that gives way or an overwhelming power to the opposing force. a stage actor succumbing to the lure of Hollywood relent implies a yielding through pity or mercy by one who holds the upper hand. finally relented and let the children stay up late defer implies a voluntary yielding or submitting out of respect or reverence for or deference and affection toward another. I defer to your expertise in these matters

Examples of relent in a Sentence

Our application was initially refused, but the city relented in the end and the permit was issued. They had refused to pay and relented only after being threatened with a lawsuit. The winds would not relent.
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Recent Examples on the Web

But officials relented in 2016 after the International Olympic Committee ruled that female-to-male transgender athletes could compete in the Rio Games. Elliott Almond, The Mercury News, "One punch at a time for transgender boxer’s fight to compete," 4 June 2019 State officials initially disputed and discredited Hanna-Attisha’s findings after their release in September 2015, but within weeks relented and pledged action. Washington Post, "Doctor pens book on her role in revealing Flint water crisis," 15 June 2018 Since then, the president hasn’t relented from his attacks on the press. Vivian Salama, WSJ, "‘Hamilton’ Biographer Ron Chernow, Not Comedian, to Star at Next White House Correspondents’ Dinner," 19 Nov. 2018 Williams finally relented and called timeout, and the genteel North Carolina coach with the aw-shucks disposition spent most of it savagely ripping into his bench. Dave Skretta, The Seattle Times, "Hot-shooting Auburn upsets No. 1 North Carolina 97-80," 30 Mar. 2019 As global attention mounted, Thailand relented, allowing Ms. Alqunun to speak with officials from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. James Hookway, WSJ, "Canada Grants Refugee Status to Saudi Teen," 11 Jan. 2019 The legislature didn’t act, but the couple and the ACLU would not relent. Susan Miller, USA TODAY, "3 years after same-sex marriage ruling, protections for LGBT families undermined," 4 June 2018 The Army Corps eventually relented, dredging in 2015, 2016 and 2017 and placing the sediment into dikes. Eric Heisig,, "Ohio, Army Corps settle lawsuit over dredging of Cleveland Harbor," 21 Feb. 2018 Tanzania banned foreign soccer coaches in 1975, only to relent eventually. Christopher Clarey, New York Times, "African Team, African Coach: Senegal Is Making a Strong Statement in Russia," 24 June 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for relent

Middle English, to melt, soften, from Anglo-French relenter, from re- + Latin lentare to bend, from lentus soft, pliant, slow — more at lithe

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Statistics for relent

Last Updated

13 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for relent

The first known use of relent was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for relent



English Language Learners Definition of relent

somewhat formal
: to agree to do or accept something that you have been resisting or opposing
: to become less severe, harsh, strong, determined, etc.


re·​lent | \ ri-ˈlent How to pronounce relent (audio) \
relented; relenting

Kids Definition of relent

1 : to become less severe, harsh, or strict The wind relented by evening.
2 : to give in after first resisting or refusing My dad finally relented and increased my allowance.

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More from Merriam-Webster on relent

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with relent

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for relent

Spanish Central: Translation of relent

Nglish: Translation of relent for Spanish Speakers

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