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 Iranian officials maintain that Biden must relent first, creating a stalemate in the first weeks of his term. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, "Europeans rebuke Iran for taking ‘key step’ to build nuclear weapon," 12 Feb. 2021 Historically, the lame-duck session has not led to large bipartisan pieces of legislation, and thus far, leaders in both parties haven't displayed any willingness to relent on key demands. Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY, "Coronavirus stimulus negotiations in a 'lame duck' session likely to face more deadlock," 11 Nov. 2020 The tears stopped, but the burden of the past months won’t relent. Anita Chabria, Los Angeles Times, "His wife died while both were in a care facility. Lonely, he dreams of post-pandemic love," 26 Dec. 2020 That leaves them largely in limbo, like other students, restlessly trying to outlast a pandemic that may not relent until summer, after the school year ends. Ron Kroichick,, "‘Recipe for disaster’: Why some Bay Area high school athletes left state to compete," 23 Dec. 2020 Orban briefed parliamentary parties about his position in a non-public meeting, with no indication of changing his stance, according to opposition parties who called on him to relent. Nikos Chrysoloras,, "Hungary, Poland Pressured to Lift EU Veto Threat Within Hours," 7 Dec. 2020 The government twice declared the immigration over, only to relent. Joshua Mitnick, The Christian Science Monitor, "Amid war, Ethiopian Jews await Israeli rescue. Is bias causing delay?," 15 Dec. 2020 Suddenly, Amazon blocked his most recent installment — at least until public pressure forced the multibillion-dollar company to relent. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "Progressives Are No Longer Defenders of Free Expression," 3 Dec. 2020 This kind of public pressure to keep prices low will likely relent once enough people have been vaccinated, and the pandemic is over. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "How drug companies will profit from making Covid-19 vaccines," 1 Dec. 2020

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

Time Traveler for relent

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for relent

Last Updated

25 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Relent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

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.

More from Merriam-Webster on relent

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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