Synonym Chooser

How does the verb relent differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of relent are capitulate, defer, submit, succumb, and yield. While all these words mean "to give way to someone or something that one can no longer resist," relent implies a yielding through pity or mercy by one who holds the upper hand.

finally relented and let the children stay up late

When is capitulate a more appropriate choice than relent?

The meanings of capitulate and relent largely overlap; however, 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

Where would defer be a reasonable alternative to relent?

Although the words defer and relent have much in common, 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

When can submit be used instead of relent?

In some situations, the words submit and relent are roughly equivalent. However, 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

When is it sensible to use succumb instead of relent?

While in some cases nearly identical to relent, 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

When would yield be a good substitute for relent?

While the synonyms yield and relent are close in meaning, yield may apply to any sort or degree of giving way before force, argument, persuasion, or entreaty.

yields too easily in any argument

Thesaurus Entries Near relent

Cite this Entry

“Relent.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on relent

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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