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verb jus·ti·fy \ˈjəs-tə-ˌfī\

Simple Definition of justify

  • : to provide or be a good reason for (something) : to prove or show (something) to be just, right, or reasonable

  • : to provide a good reason for the actions of (someone)

  • : to position (text) so that the edges form a straight line

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of justify



  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable b (1) :  to show to have had a sufficient legal reason (2) :  to qualify (oneself) as a surety by taking oath to the ownership of sufficient property

  3. 2 a archaic :  to administer justice to b archaic :  absolve c :  to judge, regard, or treat as righteous and worthy of salvation

  4. 3 a :  to space (as lines of text) so that the lines come out even at the margin b :  to make even by justifying <justified margins>

  5. intransitive verb
  6. 1 a :  to show a sufficient lawful reason for an act done b :  to qualify as bail or surety

  7. 2 :  to justify lines of text


play \-ˌfī(-ə)r\ noun

Examples of justify in a sentence

  1. He tried to justify his behavior by saying that he was being pressured unfairly by his boss.

  2. The fact that we are at war does not justify treating innocent people as criminals.

Origin and Etymology of justify

Middle English justifien, from Anglo-French or Late Latin; Anglo-French justifier, from Late Latin justificare, from Latin justus

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of justify

maintain, assert, defend, vindicate, justify mean to uphold as true, right, just, or reasonable. maintain stresses firmness of conviction <steadfastly maintained his innocence>. assert suggests determination to make others accept one's claim <asserted her rights>. defend implies maintaining in the face of attack or criticism <defended his voting record>. vindicate implies successfully defending <his success vindicated our faith in him>. justify implies showing to be true, just, or valid by appeal to a standard or to precedent <the action was used to justify military intervention>.

Rhymes with justify

abide by, Adonai, alibi, alkali, amplify, apple-pie, argufy, assegai, azo dye, basify, beautify, butterfly, by-and-by, caddis fly, calcify, certify, Chou En-lai, citify, clarify, classify, coalify, cockneyfy, codify, college try, cottage pie, crucify, cut-and-try, cutie-pie, DIY, damnify, damselfly, dandify, deify, densify, dignify, dobsonfly, do-or-die, dragonfly, dulcify, eagle eye, edify, evil eye, falsify, fancify, fortify, frenchify, fructify, gasify, Gemini, gentrify, glorify, goggle-eye, goldeneye, gratify, Haggai, harvest fly, hexerei, high and dry, hip and thigh, Hokusai, hook and eye, horrify, hoverfly, humble pie, Iceni, kiss good-bye, lazy eye, lignify, liquefy, lithify, Lorelei, lullaby, Madurai, magnify, Malachi, Maracay, minify, modify, mollify, Molokai, Mordecai, mortify, multi-ply, multiply, mummify, mystify, nazify, notify, nullify, occupy, old school tie, on standby, on the fly, ossify, overbuy, overfly, overlie, pacify, Paraguay, passerby, peccavi, petrify, PPI, preachify, prettify, private eye, prophesy, purify, putrefy, qualify, quantify, ramify, rarefy, ratify, RBI, rectify, reify, res gestae, robber fly, runner's high, Russify, samurai, sanctify, satisfy, scarify, schwarmerei, semidry, set store by, shepherd's pie, shoofly pie, signify, simplify, Spanish fly, specify, speechify, stratify, stultify, stupefy, sweetie pie, Tenebrae, terrify, testify, tie-and-dye, tigereye, Trans Alai, tumble dry, typify, uglify, underlie, unify, Uruguay, Veneti, verify, versify, vilify, vinify, vitrify, vivify, weather eye, Windsor tie, xanthene dye, yuppify, zombify

JUSTIFY Defined for Kids


verb jus·ti·fy \ˈjəs-tə-ˌfī\

Definition of justify for Students



  1. :  to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable <How can you justify your actions?>


\-ə-bəl\ adjective


\-blē\ adverb

Law Dictionary


verb jus·ti·fy \ˈjəs-tə-ˌfī\

Legal Definition of justify



  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable <does not justify a denial of bail>

  3. 2 :  to show to have had a legally sufficient reason or cause <a defendant may not set up his own standard of conduct to justify or excuse himself — State v. Doss, 568 P.2d 1054 (1977)>

  4. intransitive verb
  5. 1 :  to show a legally sufficient reason for an act

  6. 2 :  to swear an oath as to the ownership of sufficient property <they shall justify in an amount no less than $200 — Oregon Revised Statutes>; also :  to qualify as a surety by swearing such an oath <the defendants sought to justify as bail — State v. Blaisdell, 253 A.2d 341 (1969)>

Seen and Heard

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a block used as a base for a statue

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