May 1, 2015

Wordology, Assent vs. Consent

In English, consent and assent are often used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference. To assent is to agree with a statement made by an equal. For instance, in 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.

To consent implies a power relationship where the consent is granted by the party with more power. To consent is to give permission, which could have been withheld. Bottom line, consent is to give permission while assent equals agreement.