verb re·lent \ ri-ˈlent \
|Updated on: 11 Jul 2018

Definition of relent

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

Examples of relent in a Sentence

  1. Our application was initially refused, but the city relented in the end and the permit was issued.

  2. They had refused to pay and relented only after being threatened with a lawsuit.

  3. The winds would not relent.

Recent Examples of relent from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of relent

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

RELENT Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of relent for English Language Learners

  • : to agree to do or accept something that you have been resisting or opposing

  • : to become less severe, harsh, strong, determined, etc.

RELENT Defined for Kids


verb re·lent \ ri-ˈlent \

Definition of relent for Students

relented; relenting
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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to beat or defeat soundly

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