1 : exerting a soothing or easing influence : relieving pain or stress
2 : of mild and tolerant disposition; especially : indulgent
Did You Know?
"Lenient" is a word with a soothing history. It derives from the Latin verb "lenire," meaning "to soothe" or "to soften" (itself from "lenis," meaning "soft or mild"). The first, now archaic, sense of "lenient" referred to something soothing that relieved pain and stress. That meaning was shared by "lenitive," an earlier derivative of "lenire" that was commonly used with "electuary" ("lenitive electuary" being a medicated paste prepared with honey or another sweet and used by veterinarians to alleviate pain in the mouth). Linguists also borrowed "lenis" to describe speech sounds that are softened -- for instance, the "t" sound in "gutter" is lenis. By way of comparison, the "t" sound in "toe" is fortis.
The judge decided to be lenient because it was a first offense, but warned that the defendant would not be so lucky a second time.
"Portugal agreed yesterday to accept an international aid plan of $116 billion that the country's caretaker prime minister, Jose Socrates, suggested would involve more lenient conditions than those imposed on Greece and Ireland in return for similar bailouts." -- From an article by Raphael Minder in the Boston Globe, May 4, 2011
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