clem·​en·​cy ˈkle-mən(t)-sē How to pronounce clemency (audio)
plural clemencies
: disposition to be merciful and especially to moderate the severity of punishment due
The judge ignored the prisoner's pleas for clemency.
: an act or instance of leniency
The governor's clemencies saved the lives of many death-row prisoners.
: pleasant mildness of weather
The fair was a great success, owing to the clemency of the weather.
Choose the Right Synonym for clemency

mercy, charity, clemency, grace, leniency mean a disposition to show kindness or compassion.

mercy implies compassion that forbears punishing even when justice demands it.

threw himself on the mercy of the court

charity stresses benevolence and goodwill shown in broad understanding and tolerance of others.

show a little charity for the less fortunate

clemency implies a mild or merciful disposition in one having the power or duty of punishing.

the judge refused to show clemency

grace implies a benign attitude and a willingness to grant favors or make concessions.

by the grace of God

leniency implies lack of severity in punishing.

criticized the courts for excessive leniency

Example Sentences

The President has granted clemency to several people this month. the judge chose to show clemency to the truly repentant embezzler
Recent Examples on the Web Governor Charlie Baker proposed pardons Wednesday that would clear the criminal records of four men convicted between 1971 and 1990, a rarity in a state with a longstanding reluctance to grant clemency. Daniel Kool,, 12 Oct. 2022 Trump did not grant clemency to Bannon's three co-defendants. Peter Weber, The Week, 7 Sep. 2022 When he is scheduled to be executed, Kardashian is in a race against time to mobilize her powerful friends – actors, athletes and preachers among them – to tweet pleas for Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt to grant Julius Jones clemency. Marianne Garvey, CNN, 19 May 2022 The five-member board, which is the only authority in Georgia that can commute a death sentence, on Monday declined to grant clemency for Presnell. Kate Brumback, ajc, 17 May 2022 Under the Constitution, the president has the power to grant clemency to forgive convictions. Krista Johnson, The Courier-Journal, 26 Apr. 2022 Under the Constitution, the president has the power to grant clemency to forgive convictions. Joey Garrison, USA TODAY, 26 Apr. 2022 In October, 11 members of Congress petitioned the Biden administration to grant clemency based on compassionate grounds. Erik Ortiz, NBC News, 24 Mar. 2022 Only the president can grant clemency to those who violate the city’s laws. Washington Post, 18 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'clemency.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


see clement

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of clemency was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near clemency

Cite this Entry

“Clemency.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



clem·​en·​cy ˈklem-ən-sē How to pronounce clemency (audio)
plural clemencies
: disposition to be merciful
: an act or instance of mercy

Legal Definition



clem·​en·​cy ˈkle-mən-sē How to pronounce clemency (audio)
plural clemencies
: willingness or ability to moderate the severity of a punishment (as a sentence)
: an act or instance of mercy, compassion, or forgiveness see also amnesty, commute, pardon, reprieve

More from Merriam-Webster on clemency

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