from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • noun The condition or quality of being lenient; leniency.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • noun Mildness of temper; softness; tenderness; mercy.


  • And here I must observe, that the Americans can no longer anticipate lenity from the English traveller, as latterly they have so deeply committed themselves.

    Diary in America, Series One

  • The man who was in the last degree amiable was to the last degree unyielding where conscience was concerned; the soul which was so tender had no weakness in it; his lenity was the divination of a finer justice.

    Literary Friends and Acquaintance; a Personal Retrospect of American Authorship

  • It is even good policy to treat prisoners with the greatest lenity which is consistent with their safe-keeping.

    The Lectures, Corrected and Improved, which Have Been Delivered for a Series of Years in the ...

  • Director's Favorite Line: "When lenity and cruelty play for a kingdom, the gentler gamester is the soonest winner."

    Five Acts in the Summer of the Bard

  • There was no avenue here for a criminal conviction, certainly not with the rule of lenity (requiring that criminal statutes be interpreted against the state).

    Your Right Hand Thief

  • 'I am too angry with him for pity,' said Mrs. Tyrold; 'nor is his understanding of a class that has any claim to such lenity: I had often thought our gentle Lavinia almost born to be his wife, and no one could more truly have deserved him.


  • He represented that lenity in this case would be equally politic and popular, whereas, considering the high respect with which the rites of interment are regarded in Scotland, any severity exercised against the Master of Ravenswood for protecting those of his father from interruption, would be on all sides most unfavourably construed.

    The Bride of Lammermoor

  • The vivacity of bright hope flashed into the sparkling eyes of Bellamy, at so gentle a remonstrance; and entreaties for lenity, declarations of passion, professions of submission, and practice of resistance, assailed the young Eugenia with a rapidity that confounded her: she heard him with scarce any opposition, from a fear of irritating his feelings, joined to a juvenile embarrassment how to treat with more severity so sincere and so humble a suppliant.


  • His utmost lenity could not palliate the wilful disrespect of his language; and, with a look of grave displeasure, he answered, 'Really, nephew, I can't but say, I think you've got rather a particular odd way of speaking to persons.


  • But crimes of infirmity; such as are those which proceed from great provocation, from great fear, great need, or from ignorance whether the fact be a great crime or not, there is place many times for lenity, without prejudice to the Commonwealth; and lenity, when there is such place for it, is required by the law of nature.



The word 'lenity' comes ultimately from a Latin word meaning 'mild'.