verb (used without object)

  1. to soften in feeling, temper, or determination; become more mild, compassionate, or forgiving.
  2. to become less severe; slacken: The winds relented.

verb (used with object)

  1. Obsolete. to cause to soften in feeling, temper, or determination.
  2. Obsolete. to cause to slacken; abate.
  3. Obsolete. to abandon; relinquish.

verb (intr)

  1. to change one’s mind about some decided course, esp a harsh one; become more mild or amenable
  2. (of the pace or intensity of something) to slacken
  3. (of the weather) to become more mild

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.

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