[ lee-nee-uhn-see, leen-yuhn- ]
/ 藞li ni 蓹n si, 藞lin y蓹n- /
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noun, plural le路ni路en路cies.
the quality or state of being lenient.
a lenient act.
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Also le路ni路ence .

Origin of leniency

First recorded in 1770鈥80; leni(ent) + -ency
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 漏 Random House, Inc. 2023


What does聽leniency mean?

Leniency is the quality of being lenient鈥攑ermissive or merciful, as opposed to strict or harsh.

When you鈥檙e lenient with someone, you go easy on them. The word sometimes implies that maybe you鈥檙e going too easy, and should be more strict. On the other hand, if someone thinks a person is being too strict, such as when disciplining a child, they may tell them to be more lenient.

A person, an action, or a policy can show or have the quality of leniency. The word is especially used in the context of punishments, especially official ones like prison sentences. In this case, it鈥檚 often used to imply that such a punishment is not severe enough in the opinion of the speaker.

A less common variant of leniency is lenience.

Example: In my opinion, they鈥檝e shown far too much leniency with his punishment鈥擨 think he鈥檚 getting off too easy.

Where does聽leniency come from?

The first records of the word leniency come from around 1780. It ultimately derives from the Latin verb l膿n墨re, meaning 鈥渢o soften, soothe, or alleviate鈥 (l膿n墨re comes from the Latin lenis, meaning 鈥渟oft鈥 or 鈥渕ild鈥). Lenient was first used in the context of medical remedies to ease pain or discomfort. (The related word lenitive is still used in this sense.)

Today, leniency is most often used to refer to the mildness of a punishment. For example, people often criticize courts for showing too much leniency when giving short prison sentences for people who have committed violent crimes. Leniency often implies that a person is choosing to not strictly enforce rules in order to make things easier for someone. Grandparents are often known for having more leniency than parents when disciplining children (or not disciplining them).

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms of leniency?

  • lenience (noun)
  • lenient (adjective)

What are some synonyms for leniency?

What are some words that share a root or word element with leniency?聽


What are some words that often get used in discussing leniency?

How is聽leniency used in real life?

Leniency is used in many different contexts, but most of them involve rules and punishment.



Try using聽leniency!

Which of the following words is an antonym (opposite) of leniency?

A. strictness
B. permissiveness
C. forgiveness
D. laxness

How to use leniency in a sentence