Mercy, charity, grace, clemency, lenity are comparable when meaning the disposition to show compassion or kindness in one’s treatment of others, especially of those who offend one and who are in one’s power to punish or rebuke.
Mercy implies compassion so great as to enable one to forbear, even when justice demands punishment, or to give help or comfort even to the lowliest or most undeserving.
Charity stresses benevolence and goodwill, especially as it reveals itself not only in giving generously (for this sense see CHARITY 2 ) but in broad understanding of others and in kindly tolerance.
Grace implies a benignant attitude toward those who are dependent on one and a disposition to grant favors or to make concessions to them.
Clemency (see clement under FORBEARING ) implies a mild or merciful disposition in one whose duty or function it is to administer justice or to punish offenses.
Lenity differs from clemency only in its greater emphasis on lack of severity. It often suggests undue gentleness or softness or even at times undue leniency.