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[lee-nee-uh nt, leen-yuh nt] /ˈli ni ənt, ˈlin yənt/
agreeably tolerant; permissive; indulgent:
He tended to be lenient toward the children. More lenient laws encouraged greater freedom of expression.
Archaic. softening, soothing, or alleviative.
Origin of lenient
1645-55; < Latin lēnient- (stem of lēniēns), present participle of lēnīre to soften, alleviate, soothe. See lenis, -ent
Related forms
leniently, adverb
superlenient, adjective
superleniently, adverb
unlenient, adjective
unleniently, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for leniently
Historical Examples
  • How leniently, then, should we deal with those who labor for our pleasure in these capacities!

    Sir Jasper Carew Charles James Lever
  • Thus in every way the Inquisition dealt with him as leniently as they could.

    Pioneers of Science Oliver Lodge
  • That she should have been treated so leniently and Jeanne so cruelly!

    Jeanne d'Arc Mrs.(Margaret) Oliphant
  • "Just like a fool woman," people say leniently, and are willing to let it pass.

    At the Age of Eve

    Kate Trimble Sharber
  • "Well, I don't see why not," agreed the lieutenant, leniently.

  • "Oh, my dear, engaged people could talk forever," Julia said leniently.

    The Story Of Julia Page Kathleen Norris
  • "You have judged that old bear much too leniently," began the professor.

  • Would that we might all be judged as leniently by future critics!

    Mohawks, Volume 1 of 3 Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  • I don't see how you can speak of it so leniently as you do, Mrs. Bowen.

    Indian Summer William D. Howells
  • Dr. Archie swung round in his chair and looked at her, honestly and leniently.

    Song of the Lark Willa Cather
British Dictionary definitions for leniently


showing or characterized by mercy or tolerance
(archaic) caressing or soothing
Derived Forms
leniency, lenience, noun
leniently, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from Latin lēnīre to soothe, from lēnis soft
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for leniently



1650s, "relaxing, soothing," from Middle French lenient, from Latin lenientem (nominative leniens), present participle of lenire "to soften, alleviate, mitigate, allay, calm," from lenis "mild, gentle, calm," probably from PIE root *le- "to leave, yield, let go, slacken" (cf. Lithuanian lenas "quiet, tranquil, tame, slow," Old Church Slavonic lena "lazy," Latin lassus "faint, weary," Old English læt "sluggish, slow," lætan "to leave behind"). Sense of "mild, merciful" (of persons) first recorded 1787. In earlier use was lenitive, attested from early 15c. of medicines, 1610s of persons.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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