[ lee-nee-uhnt, leen-yuhnt ]
See synonyms for: lenientleniently on Thesaurus.com

  1. agreeably tolerant; permissive; indulgent: He tended to be lenient toward the children. More lenient laws encouraged greater freedom of expression.

  2. Archaic. softening, soothing, or alleviative.

Origin of lenient

First recorded in 1645–55; from Latin lēnient-, stem of lēniēns “softened,” present participle of lēnīre “to alleviate, soften, soothe,” derivative of lēnis lenis

Other words from lenient

  • le·ni·ent·ly, adverb
  • su·per·le·ni·ent, adjective
  • su·per·le·ni·ent·ly, adverb
  • un·le·ni·ent, adjective
  • un·le·ni·ent·ly, adverb

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use lenient in a sentence

  • “We are cutting the business tax rate… and specifically targeting multinationals, so they are taxed more leniently,” he said.

    Meet Britain's Austerity Chief | R.M. Schneiderman | December 17, 2010 | THE DAILY BEAST
  • Lowell had treated Fire Bear leniently—too leniently most of the white men near the reservation had considered.

    Mystery Ranch | Arthur Chapman
  • Sometimes she ventures to hope that the editor will judge her work leniently, since she is only a beginner.

    Journalism for Women | E.A. Bennett
  • As it is, I am too old a man to be indulged leniently by the public in such a proceeding.

  • Yet it would appear that abstract justice judged less leniently of the position.

  • It shouldn't be, then, in my opinion, even if it could be; Margaret Cruger has been much too leniently dealt with.

    East Angels | Constance Fenimore Woolson

British Dictionary definitions for lenient


/ (ˈliːnɪənt) /

  1. showing or characterized by mercy or tolerance

  2. archaic caressing or soothing

Origin of lenient

C17: from Latin lēnīre to soothe, from lēnis soft

Derived forms of lenient

  • leniency or lenience, noun
  • leniently, adverb

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