(in the Christian religion) an annual season of fasting and penitence in preparation for Easter, beginning on Ash Wednesday and lasting 40 weekdays to Easter, observed by Roman Catholic, Anglican, and certain other churches.
short for Lenten, from O.E. lencten "spring," the season, from W.Gmc. *langa-tinaz (cf. O.S. lentin, M.Du. lenten, O.H.G. lengizin manoth), from *lanngaz (root of O.E. lang "long") + *tina-, a root meaning "day" (cf. Goth. sin-teins "daily"), cognate with O.C.S. dini, Lith. diena, L. dies "day." the compound probably refers to the increasing daylight. Church sense of "period between Ash Wednesday and Easter" is peculiar to Eng.