• IPA: /ɹɪˈlɛnt/

relent (plural relents)

  1. Stay; stop; delay.
    • 2015, Mel Parson, First Sign of Trouble (song)
      There was no relent, my dear, as we pulled each other in.
  2. (obsolete) A relenting.

relent (relents, present participle relenting; past and past participle relented)

  1. (intransitive) To become less severe or intense; to become less hard, harsh, or cruel; to soften in temper; to become more mild and tender; to feel compassion.
    He had planned to ground his son for a month, but relented and decided to give him a stern lecture instead.
    • 1989', Kazuo Ishiguro The Remains of the Day
      I did, I suppose, hope that she might finally relent a little and make some conciliatory response or other.
    • 1591, William Shakespeare, “The First Part of Henry the Sixt”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act III, scene i]:
      Can you, my Lord of Winchester, behold
      My sighs and tears and will not once relent?
  2. (intransitive) To slacken; to abate.
    We waited for the storm to relent before we ventured outside.
    He will not relent in his effort to reclaim his victory.
  3. (obsolete, transitive) To lessen, make less severe or intense.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, III.iv:
      But nothing might relent her hastie flight; / So deepe the deadly feare of that foule swaine / Was earst impressed in her gentle spright […]
  4. (dated, intransitive) To become less rigid or hard; to soften; to yield; to dissolve; to melt; to deliquesce.
    • [Salt of tartar] placed in a cellar will […] begin to relent.
    • 1717, Alexander Pope, Eloisa to Abelard:
      When opening buds salute the welcome day, / And earth, relenting, feels the genial ray.
  • Italian: cedere
  • Russian: смягча́ться
  • Spanish: ceder
Translations Adjective


  1. (obsolete) softhearted; yielding

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