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

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 There were moments when the action got a bit heated, including a testy exchange between Baldwin and Harden in the second quarter, but Baldwin refused to relent. Special To The Oregonian,, "Chris Paul spoils improbable 4th-quarter comeback by Portland Trail Blazers," 5 Apr. 2018 Jenkins simply refuses to relent in his quest to maintain the club's Premier League status, especially with the financial rewards being so captivating and the pitfalls of relegation so dangerous., "Swansea City Offer Atletico's Nicolas Gaitan Enticing Deal as They Look to Avoid EPL Relegation," 24 Jan. 2018 The administration relented in 2011 by allowing students to perform the play on campus, but they were barred from advertising the event off campus, and student IDs were required for entry. Chad Sokol, The Seattle Times, "Gonzaga University to host ‘The Vagina Monologues,’ a play once banned on campus," 10 Feb. 2019

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

2 May 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

Comments on relent

What made you want to look up relent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a strong desire or propensity

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