verb (used without object)

to soften in feeling, temper, or determination; become more mild, compassionate, or forgiving.
to become less severe; slacken: The winds relented.

verb (used with object)

Obsolete. to cause to soften in feeling, temper, or determination.
Obsolete. to cause to slacken; abate.
Obsolete. to abandon; relinquish.

Origin of relent

1350–1400; Middle English < Medieval Latin *relentāre, equivalent to Latin re- re- + lentāre to bend, derivative of lentus flexible, viscous, slow
Related formsre·lent·ing·ly, adverbnon·re·lent·ing, adjectiveun·re·lent·ed, adjective

Synonyms for relent

1. bend, yield. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for relent

Contemporary Examples of relent

Historical Examples of relent

  • Wanhope had the effect of appealing to Minver, but the painter would not relent.

    Questionable Shapes

    William Dean Howells

  • Your mother is of opinion, you say, that at last my friends will relent.

    Clarissa, Volume 2 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • That it could soften or relent, appeared next to impossible.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • We shrink not from death, nor relent before any of thy gods.

  • If he were to relent and give up his scruples would you marry him?

    The Tragic Muse

    Henry James

British Dictionary definitions for relent


verb (intr)

to change one's mind about some decided course, esp a harsh one; become more mild or amenable
(of the pace or intensity of something) to slacken
(of the weather) to become more mild

Word Origin for relent

C14: from re- + Latin lentāre to bend, from lentus flexible, tenacious
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 relent

late 14c., "to melt, soften, dissolve," from re- + Latin lentus "slow, viscous, supple" (see lithe), perhaps on model of Old French rallentir. Sense of "become less harsh or cruel" first recorded 1520s. The notion probably is of a hard heart melting with pity. Related: Relented; relenting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper