Definition of lenient in English:



  • 1(of a punishment or person in authority) more merciful or tolerant than expected.

    ‘in the view of the Court the sentence was too lenient’
    ‘lenient magistrates’
    • ‘He suggested that leaders on both sides should be more lenient.’
    • ‘Well, it seems Mr Adler's interpretation of that punishment was a little more lenient than the law would prefer.’
    • ‘When those convicted are let off with lenient sentences what do people expect?’
    • ‘To make matters worse, the Criminal Code orders judges to give lenient sentences to Indian criminals.’
    • ‘It is no wonder labor unions holding illegal protests expect the government to be lenient.’
    • ‘The punishment must fit the crime, yet we let magistrates get away with handing out lenient sentences.’
    • ‘Many thought this too lenient a punishment for a teenager who had created the world's most prolific computer worms.’
    • ‘The 30-month sentence has been criticized by Australia and the United States as too lenient.’
    • ‘Therefore, I will not suspend you this time, but do not expect me to be so lenient with you next time.’
    • ‘If we forgive too easily or grow too lenient in our criminal justice system, we may ignore the genuine harm done.’
    • ‘The punishment for a woman is more lenient - she must stay in prison until she reverts, however long it takes.’
    • ‘Perhaps this is a poor assumption, but if you were ever to be caught, the authorities might be more lenient with you.’
    • ‘Dance companies are more lenient about tattoos than you might expect, and certainly more so than they once were.’
    • ‘A journalist in Melbourne wrote a column suggesting that a local magistrate was too lenient on criminals.’
    • ‘However he has a heart problem which might cause the authorities to impose a much more lenient sentence, it reports.’
    • ‘Lewis was banned from boxing after his act and for many, that punishment was too lenient.’
    • ‘Engineering sector lawmaker Raymond Ho said the punishment meted out was too lenient.’
    • ‘Academic staff at overseas universities tend to be more lenient towards guest students from developing countries.’
    • ‘He was always easygoing but not too lenient and he was always sweet but not sickeningly mushy.’
    • ‘There is no need for them to be lenient, nor are they expected to close their eyes to evil practices.’
    merciful, clement, sparing, forgiving, forbearing, tolerant, moderate, charitable, humane, indulgent, easy-going, magnanimous, sympathetic, compassionate, pitying, kind, kindly, kind-hearted, benevolent, gentle
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  • 2archaic Mild or soothing; emollient.


Mid 17th century (in lenient (sense 2)): from Latin lenient- ‘soothing’, from the verb lenire, from lenis ‘mild, gentle’.