ab·​so·​lu·​tion | \ ˌab-sə-ˈlü-shən How to pronounce absolution (audio) \

Definition of absolution

: the act of forgiving someone for having done something wrong or sinful : the act of absolving someone or the state of being absolved specifically : a remission of sins pronounced by a priest (as in the sacrament of reconciliation) The rite of confessing one's sins to a priest and receiving absolution … is also recognized as a sacrament in the Anglican and Orthodox Christian traditions. — Peter Steinfels

Synonyms & Antonyms for absolution



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Since the Latin absolutus meant "set free", it's easy to see how absolution came to mean "set free from sin". (And also easy to see why absolute means basically "pure"—that is, originally, "free of sin".) The verb for absolution is absolve. Just as a priest absolves believers of their sins, you may absolve your brother of blame for a household disaster, or you yourself may in time be absolved for that scrape on the car backing out of a parking space.

Examples of absolution in a Sentence

He asked the priest to give him absolution for his sins. the jury's verdict of “not guilty” was absolution in the eyes of the law, but the verdict would always be “guilty” in the court of public opinion
Recent Examples on the Web National Historical Park, where ruling chiefs would grant absolution to Hawaiian lawbreakers and vanquished warriors. Dan Fellner, The Arizona Republic, 2 Feb. 2022 Ruth’s defense and absolution of the priest becomes a personal crusade. Emilio Mayorga, Variety, 21 Mar. 2022 Buckley and Wilkins spent many years brooding over their respective roles in the Smith saga—seeking comfort, if not absolution, from each other. Sam Adler-bell, The New Republic, 7 Mar. 2022 In making its announcement, the Spanish prosecutor stressed its decision did not mean absolution. Peter Mikelbank And Phil Boucher, PEOPLE.com, 4 Mar. 2022 There can be no soft-pedaling what happened and no absolution for those who planned, encouraged and aided the attempt to overthrow our democracy. WSJ, 11 Jan. 2022 There can be no soft-pedaling what happened and no absolution for those who planned, encouraged and aided the attempt to overthrow our democracy. Zachary B. Wolf, CNN, 8 Jan. 2022 Rather than feeling a sense of moral absolution by dint of her role as a prosecutor, Coates fully accepts the moral consequences of her decisions. Washington Post, 4 Feb. 2022 Was religious absolution even possible with the geopolitical recriminations involved? Matt Sullivan, Rolling Stone, 22 Jan. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'absolution.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of absolution

13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for absolution

Middle English absoluciun, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin absolūtiōn-, absolūtiō "completion, acquittal, release," from absolū- (stem, before consonants, of absolvere "to set free, acquit, finish") + -tiōn-, -tiō suffix of action nouns — more at absolve

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The first known use of absolution was in the 13th century

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Dictionary Entries Near absolution

absolute zero



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Last Updated

21 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Absolution.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/absolution. Accessed 4 Jul. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on absolution

Nglish: Translation of absolution for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about absolution


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