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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. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for leniently
Historical Examples
  • When you reach France you will tell the French you have been leniently dealt with, won't you?

    Six Women and the Invasion Gabrielle Yerta
  • Thus in every way the Inquisition dealt with him as leniently as they could.

    Pioneers of Science Oliver Lodge
  • "Judy likes to see herself go by in the mirror," smiled Elinor leniently.

    Miss Pat at School Pemberton Ginther
  • That she should have been treated so leniently and Jeanne so cruelly!

    Jeanne d'Arc Mrs.(Margaret) Oliphant
  • How leniently, then, should we deal with those who labor for our pleasure in these capacities!

    Sir Jasper Carew Charles James Lever
  • "Just like a fool woman," people say leniently, and are willing to let it pass.

    At the Age of Eve Kate Trimble Sharber
  • "Of course the Tommies don't need them," she leniently added.

    Robin Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • "Well, I don't see why not," agreed the lieutenant, leniently.

  • "Perhaps he only did it to keep the talk going, and to give the old man a chance to say something," March leniently suggested.

    The March Family Trilogy, Complete William Dean Howells
  • Would that we might all be judged as leniently by future critics!

    Mohawks, Volume 1 of 3 Mary Elizabeth Braddon
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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