Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What is the difference between assent and consent?

share|improve this question
add comment

3 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

To consent is to give permission, which could have been withheld. It implies a power relationship where the consent is granted by the party with more power.

There is the political theory that says, governments can rule only with the consent of the governed. That is, the people consent to be governed and thus grant their power to the government.

To assent is to agree with a statement made by an equal. On the Supreme Court, one justice writes the opinion of the majority, to which other justices assent. Those that disagree are said to dissent, that is to disagree.

So, consent = permission while assent = agreement. A subtle distinction perhaps, but a useful one.

share|improve this answer
add comment

My brain's immediate shorthand response is:

"assent" = "agree"

"consent" = "allow"

share|improve this answer
add comment

Assent can also carry an official connotation, as of a government agency or official expressing approval. Otherwise they are synonymous.

share|improve this answer
add comment

protected by Will Hunting Nov 17 '12 at 6:22

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?