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

intransitive verb

: to become less severe, harsh, or strict usually from reasons of humanity
: to cease resistance : give in
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.
Recent Examples on the Web After The Chronic, black Americans who used to fight against the godless, ethical decline of ghetto living simply gave up, relenting to the power of pop-culture persuasion. Armond White, National Review, 15 Nov. 2023 Even when Prigozhin relented, the bell of his open challenge against the Kremlin could not be unrung. Alexander Smith, NBC News, 24 Aug. 2023 Here at home, the Islamophobia that followed in the wake of Hamas’s attack on October 7 has not relented, even after the murder of a 6-year-old boy of Palestinian descent in Chicago. Hafiz Rashid, The New Republic, 4 Nov. 2023 Others at the party prevented paramedics from tending to the unconscious man, the paper reported, but the paramedics called the police and the priests relented. Andrew Higgins, New York Times, 24 Oct. 2023 When a last-minute deal was reached with the White House, many of them relented. Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, 21 Oct. 2023 On Wednesday, Schumer relented on his hard-line stance. Allison Pecorin, ABC News, 20 Sep. 2023 Hopefully, Amazon will relent and just call it October Prime Day. Martin Cizmar, WIRED, 8 Sep. 2023 Eventually the hospital relented, and gave her acetaminophen intravenously, her claim said. Ian Shapira, Anchorage Daily News, 14 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'relent.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near relent

Cite this Entry

“Relent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


re·​lent ri-ˈlent How to pronounce relent (audio)
: to become less severe, harsh, or strict

More from Merriam-Webster on relent

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