'Assent' vs 'Consent': What's the Difference?

By Katie Moore, updated on July 27, 2023

‘Assent’ vs ‘Consent’: What’s the Difference? The word ‘Consent’ has become way more familiar in today’s social circles, but how is it used in other contexts? How does it differ from ‘Assent,’ and what do each of these words mean? If you’re looking for the answers to these questions, you’re reading the right article. Let’s learn more about these very important, albeit occasionally confusing words. 

In a rush? Here’s a quick overview of what’s to come: 

  • ‘Assent’ is a word that means to approve of something.
  • ‘Consent’ is a word that means to give permission to someone. 

What’s the Difference Between ‘Assent’ vs ‘Consent’?

Aside from looking similar in parts of their spelling, ‘Assent’ vs ‘Consent’ are often confused because they have similar meanings as well. Both words relate to an agreement, typically between people or groups of people. 

The key difference is the connotation of the type of agreement.

  • ‘Assent’ is the approval end of the agreement, where others are in accord, typically with an idea or set of beliefs.
  • Meanwhile, ‘Consent’ is all about permission to perform a given action and is an agreement that is built more on trust rather than concurrence.

The slightly frustrating issue is that these two words while functioning differently in a sentence or conversation, have many of the same synonyms.

  • This means that although they are different, they can sometimes be harder to discern. 

How do we differentiate between the two? We break each word down individually. So let’s do just that and take a closer look at ‘Assent’ vs ‘Consent.’

Definition of ‘Assent’: What Does it Mean?

According to Oxford Languages, ‘Assent’ is a noun defined as: 

  • The expression of approval or agreement
    • “A loud murmur of assent.”
  • Official agreement or sanction
    • “The governor has the power to withhold his assent from a bill.”

As a verb, ‘Assent’ can also mean: 

  • Express approval or agreement, typically officially
    • “He cheerfully assented that they would stay in the guest house.”

The root of ‘Assent’ comes from the Latin ‘assentire’ which means to “feel or think towards” something. You can use this origin as a hint to the word’s connotation — in the sense that ‘Assent’ specifically describes feeling approval towards something.

TOP TIP: You can also just remember that approval, agreement, and ‘Assent’ all start with the letter “a” if you want a simpler trick. 

Synonyms of ‘Assent’

  • Agreement
  • Acknowledgment
  • Concurrence
  • Accord
  • Acquiescence
  • Affirmation
  • Accession

Antonyms of ‘Assent’

  • Disagreement
  • Denial
  • Opposition
  • Refusal
  • Veto

Phrases with ‘Assent’

  • I assent
  • An assenting party
  • Nod in assent

Definition of Consent: What Does it Mean? 

According to Oxford Languages, ‘Consent’ is a noun defined as: 

  • Permission for something to happen or agreement to do something
    • “No change may be made without the consent of all the partners.”

As a verb, ‘Consent’ can also mean: 

  • Give permission for something to happen
    • “He consented to a search by a detective.” 
  • Agree to do something
    • “He had consented to serve on the panel.” 

Note: ‘Consent’ is a term frequently used today in conversations around relationships. In this more specific context, ‘Consent’ is defined as: 

  • An agreement between participants to engage in romantic or sexual activity should be clearly and freely communicated. 

Synonyms of ‘Consent’

  • Approval
  • Authorization
  • Permission
  • Blessing
  • Understanding 
  • Allowance
  • Agreement

Antonyms of ‘Consent’

  • Denial 
  • Refusal
  • Disagreement
  • Rejection
  • Objection
  • Disapproval

Phrases with ‘Consent’

  • Give consent
  • Freely consent 
  • To consent to
  • Age of consent

Pronunciations: How to Pronounce ‘Assent’ vs ‘Consent’

Given that these words are often used in more formal and serious contexts, it is important to be able to say them confidently. A major part of this is knowing how to pronounce them correctly. Follow along below to practice proper pronunciation so you’re ready for any conversation or presentation. 

Use this phonetic spelling of ‘Assent’ as a guide: 

  • ‘Uh-sent’ (with the first syllable being a more neutral sound as opposed to a tall ‘A’)

Use this phonetic spelling of ‘Consent’ as a guide: 

  • ‘Kuhn-sent’ (same as above, the “o” is a more neutral sound, not like the “o” in ‘icon’)

How to Use ‘Assent’ vs ‘Consent’ in a Sentence

Given that ‘Assent’ vs ‘Consent’ can be seen as synonyms of each other, it can be hard to distinguish when to use them. Whether we are writing or speaking, context clues are always our friend when it comes to navigating which words are best to use. So, to help provide context and ensure you have full mastery over these new words, here are some sample sentences. Be sure to look them over, then practice writing some of your own to fully nail down their uses. 

‘Assent’ Example Sentences

  • The group cheered in assent as their leader spurred them into action with a rousing speech. 
  • The bill had to receive royal assent and be signed by the monarch before being passed into law. 
  • The debate team murmured in assent as their team member argued for the big win. 
  • People commonly assent to the fact that being a doctor is a hard-earned profession. 

‘Consent’ Example Sentences

  • Colleges have training on how to ask for consent to promote a safer campus environment and encourage healthy relationships. 
  • The couple consented to attend counseling after months of arguments
  • He had to receive consent from the doctor to sit out of gym class while he was injured. 
  • She consented to have her bag searched after it was flagged by airport security. 

Final Advice on ‘Assent’ vs ‘Consent’

Navigating words that can be considered synonyms of each other can be extra tricky, given they are already so similar. But sometimes, knowing how they are similar is the easiest way to tell them apart because you can focus on the small differences.

Another major clue will always be context because it informs us of the appropriate scenarios during which these words should be used — so don’t forget to practice your example sentences. 

Want a recap? Here’s a quick review of what we covered: 

  • ‘Assent’ is a noun that means an expression of approval of or agreement on something, 
  • Meanwhile ‘Consent’ is a noun that means permission for something to happen. 

Mastering important and more formal words like ‘Assent’ vs ‘Consent’ can be daunting at first, but once you learn them, your writing and academic work will become much more clear and sophisticated. Be sure to read up on other confusing word pairs to keep expanding your vocabulary and your knowledge of English.

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Written By:
Katie Moore
Katie is a recent graduate of Occidental College where she worked as a writer and editor for the school paper while studying linguistics and journalism. She loves helping others find their voice in writing and making their work the strongest it can be. Katie also loves learning and speaking other languages and wants to help make writing accessible for everyone.

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