[lee-nee-uh nt, leen-yuh nt]


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 formsle·ni·ent·ly, adverbsu·per·le·ni·ent, adjectivesu·per·le·ni·ent·ly, adverbun·le·ni·ent, adjectiveun·le·ni·ent·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for leniently

Historical Examples of leniently

  • 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.

  • 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.

British Dictionary definitions for leniently



showing or characterized by mercy or tolerance
archaic caressing or soothing
Derived Formsleniency or lenience, nounleniently, adverb

Word Origin for lenient

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

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