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[ri-lent] /rɪˈlɛnt/
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 forms
relentingly, adverb
nonrelenting, adjective
unrelented, adjective
1. bend, yield. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for relenting
Historical Examples
  • He had no intention to comply with the relenting prayer of Fillide, that the life of Glyndon should be spared.

    Zanoni Edward Bulwer Lytton
  • “I am sure I should break down,” said I, trying to find some sign of relenting in his eyes.

    The First Violin Jessie Fothergill
  • She doesn't show signs of relenting about your friend Coxon, does she?

    Half a Hero Anthony Hope
  • She shuddered, and he caught at the fact as a sign of relenting.

  • "You'll not like it," said the squire, still holding the door against him, but speaking in a relenting tone.

    Wives and Daughters Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
  • No relenting longings towards the land of mountains and floods, I am afraid.'

    Waverley Sir Walter Scott
  • You think that at the last there will be some relenting on my part.

    Her Mother's Secret Emma D. E. N. Southworth
  • But however affected by this, she gave no sign of relenting in her purpose.

    That Affair Next Door Anna Katharine Green
  • Aylmer met his gaze coolly, unhesitatingly, and without a trace of relenting.

    The Pursuit Frank (Frank Mackenzie) Savile
  • Then, relenting, she took him in her arms and wept over him.

British Dictionary definitions for relenting


verb (intransitive)
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
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
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Word Origin and History for relenting



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
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