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[len-i-tee] /ˈlɛn ɪ ti/
noun, plural lenities.
the quality or state of being mild or gentle, as toward others.
a lenient act.
Origin of lenity
1540-50; < Latin lēnītās. See lenis, -ty2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for lenity
  • The jury was informed of the factual basis for each charge and the rule of lenity does not apply.
  • Under the rule of lenity, any ambiguity is interpreted to favor the defendant.
  • Court declines to apply the common law rule of lenity and applies the common law no fractions of the day rule.
  • It said that, for the sake of lenity, a single transaction should not be split up into multiple offenses.
  • The defendant's rule of lenity argument is without merit.
  • Under the rule of lenity any ambiguity is interpreted to favor the defendant.
  • The doctrine of lenity is not applicable here, however.
British Dictionary definitions for lenity


noun (pl) -ties
the state or quality of being lenient
Word Origin
C16: from Latin lēnitās gentleness, 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
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Word Origin and History for lenity

"softness," early 15c., from Middle French lénité or directly from Latin lenitatem (nominative lenitas), from lenis "soft, mild" (see lenient).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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