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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for absolution



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did You Know?

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 But his sense of questing—whether for some kind of spiritual absolution or just for the perfect horn sound—endures. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, "Pharoah Sanders Takes on Electronic Music," 22 Mar. 2021 The contrition suits the Lenten season, as there’s a quasireligious character to the whole episode—sin committed, discovered, condemned and confessed, a willing self-abasement before priestly authority, the longing for absolution. Daniel Lee, WSJ, "Submission Is on Exhibit at the Indianapolis Museum of Art," 12 Mar. 2021 Klara wants revenge — but a part of her maybe also wants oblivion and absolution. Bilge Ebiri, Vulture, "Think of Netflix’s Sentinelle As John Wick on the Riviera," 12 Mar. 2021 Rambeau, who's grieving the loss of her mother, offers Wanda absolution. Alia E. Dastagir, USA TODAY, "WandaVision's grieving Elizabeth Olsen was exactly what America needed," 5 Mar. 2021 And releasing the report itself reverses the Trump administration's absolution of MBS. Stephen Collinson With Caitlin Hu, CNN, "Biden vowed to hold MBS accountable. Now he's being accused of letting him get away with murder," 1 Mar. 2021 Chinese government journals seemed to jump on this absolution of their laboratories in the virus origination, demanding U.S. laboratories should instead open their doors for inspection and possible foul play. Greg Palkot, Fox News, "WHO's China coronavirus probe triggers reaction," 12 Feb. 2021 Trump's attempt at absolution by tweet is the most notable example of his deeply strange attitude towards Russia. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "The riddle of Trump's relationship with Russia," 22 Dec. 2020 Of them, Lindsey Graham is uniquely beyond absolution. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Unpardonable Sins of Lindsey Graham," 18 Nov. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about absolution

Time Traveler for absolution

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for absolution

Last Updated

3 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Absolution.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/absolution. Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on absolution

What made you want to look up absolution? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!