clem·​en·​cy | \ ?kle-m?n(t)-sē How to pronounce clemency (audio) \
plural clemencies

Definition of clemency

1a : disposition to be merciful and especially to moderate the severity of punishment due The judge ignored the prisoner's pleas for clemency.
b : an act or instance of leniency The governor's clemencies saved the lives of many death-row prisoners.
2 : pleasant mildness of weather The fair was a great success, owing to the clemency of the weather.

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Choose the Right Synonym for clemency

mercy, charity, clemency, grace, leniency mean a disposition to show kindness or compassion. mercy implies compassion that forbears punishing even when justice demands it. threw himself on the mercy of the court charity stresses benevolence and goodwill shown in broad understanding and tolerance of others. show a little charity for the less fortunate clemency implies a mild or merciful disposition in one having the power or duty of punishing. the judge refused to show clemency grace implies a benign attitude and a willingness to grant favors or make concessions. by the grace of God leniency implies lack of severity in punishing. criticized the courts for excessive leniency

Examples of clemency in a Sentence

The President has granted clemency to several people this month. the judge chose to show clemency to the truly repentant embezzler
Recent Examples on the Web The White House declined to answer detailed questions about the president's approach to clemency. Author: Beth Reinhard, Anne Gearan, Anchorage Daily News, "Most clemency grants bypass Justice Department and go to well-connected offenders," 3 Feb. 2020 Can’t quite believe we’re at a point where Trump highlighted criminal justice reform and clemency in his ad in the Super Bowl. Melissa Gira Grant, The New Republic, "The False Hope of “Bipartisan” Criminal Justice Reform," 3 Feb. 2020 The board also has the authority to issue a stay or deny clemency. Tina Burnside And Steve Almasy, CNN, "Georgia death row inmate granted clemency because jury wanted life without parole, which wasn't a possible sentence at the time," 16 Jan. 2020 After Kim intervened, Trump agreed to grant Johnson clemency. Bianca Betancourt, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kim Kardashian Shares New Photos of North West at the White House," 2 Jan. 2020 Prisoners sentenced to life in prison as both adults and juveniles have been released through other measures of executive clemency, like commutation, which allows the governor — rather than the parole commission — to set the terms of release. Hannah Gaskill,, "Larry Hogan grants parole to juvenile lifers, the first time a Maryland governor has done so in decades," 23 Nov. 2019 Back in the game: Incredibly corrupt former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s clemency might happen after all., "Worrying economic signs in the heartland point to a recession: The Flyover," 19 Aug. 2019 The Innocence Project — a non-profit legal group also campaigning for the death row inmate's release — filed for clemency last week on behalf of Reed with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. Fox News, "Rodney Reed murder case: Kim Kardashian, Rihanna among celebs urging Gov. Abbott to take inmate off death row," 6 Nov. 2019 Reed’s defense team filed for clemency after credible new witnesses and evidence that could exonerate him came to light, according to the Innocence Project last week. Kara Quebedeaux, Houston Chronicle, "Kim Kardashian, Rihanna and other celebs plead for Texas to halt execution of Rodney Reed," 5 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'clemency.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of clemency

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for clemency

see clement

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Time Traveler for clemency

Time Traveler

The first known use of clemency was in the 15th century

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Statistics for clemency

Last Updated

13 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Clemency.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for clemency


How to pronounce clemency (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of clemency

: kind or merciful treatment of someone who could be given harsh punishment


clem·​en·​cy | \ ?kle-m?n-sē How to pronounce clemency (audio) \
plural clemencies

Kids Definition of clemency

2 : an act of mercy


clem·​en·​cy | \ ?kle-m?n-sē How to pronounce clemency (audio) \
plural clemencies

Legal Definition of clemency

1 : willingness or ability to moderate the severity of a punishment (as a sentence)
2 : an act or instance of mercy, compassion, or forgiveness — see also amnesty, commute, pardon, reprieve

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More from Merriam-Webster on clemency

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for clemency

Spanish Central: Translation of clemency

Nglish: Translation of clemency for Spanish Speakers

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