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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Both sides relented the next day and agreed to five makeup days. Paige Fry,, "After the CPS strike, students got back to school Friday — but getting past the bad feelings could take longer," 1 Nov. 2019 Moore relented and examined the connections more closely. Jon Schuppe, NBC News, "Police were cracking cold cases with a DNA website. Then the fine print changed.," 23 Oct. 2019 Bean even relented a few years ago and installed a small flat-screen TV in the back, for those who just can’t do without their sports. Paul Hodgins, Daily Pilot, "Adult Beverages: A beloved Huntington Beach winery celebrates its 10th anniversary," 8 Oct. 2019 The Ukrainian leader finally relented, and Shokin was sacked. Los Angeles Times, "Biden’s visits to Ukraine draw scrutiny," 5 Oct. 2019 The acting director of national intelligence intervened initially to block Mr. Atkinson from sharing the complaint with Congress, but ultimately the Trump administration relented and allowed its public release. Nicholas Fandos, New York Times, "Impeachment Investigators Subpoena White House and Ask Pence for Documents on Ukraine," 4 Oct. 2019 Although the couple who began dating during Kaylyn’s senior year in high school briefly broke up over his behavior, Connor relented and Kaylyn accepted his proposal. Jeff Truesdell,, "Man Who Claimed Fiancée Shot Herself, Then Later Confessed to Her Murder, Is Sentenced to 37 Years," 30 Sep. 2019 The umpiring crew relented, and Jones took his base. Creg Stephenson |, al, "Mobile’s Cleon Jones to celebrate 50th anniversary of ‘Miracle Mets’ with charity golf tournament," 26 Sep. 2019 But Wilson would not relent, and the worker assumed that seeking help from the union would be pointless: Pascarelli was the union president. Sarah Schweitzer, The Atlantic, "The Lunch Ladies of New Canaan," 15 Aug. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about relent

Statistics for relent

Last Updated

14 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for relent

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for relent


How to pronounce relent (audio)

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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on relent

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for relent

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


to speed up the process or progress of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • pasta resembling wheels with spokes
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!