Definition of absolve
1 : to set (someone) free from an obligation or the consequences of guilt <The jury absolved the defendants of their crimes.> <Her youth does not absolve her of responsibility for her actions.>
Examples of absolve in a sentence
<no amount of remorse will absolve shoplifters who are caught, and all cases will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law>
Did You Know?
The act of absolving can be seen as releasing someone from blame or sin, or "loosening" the hold that responsibility has on a person, which provides a hint about the word's origins. Absolve was adopted into Middle English in the 15th century from the Latin verb absolvere, formed by combining the prefix ab- ("from, away, off") with solvere, meaning "to loosen." (Absolve also once had additional senses of "finish, accomplish" and "to resolve or explain," but these are now obsolete.) Solvere is also the ancestor of the English words solve, dissolve, resolve, solvent, and solution.
Origin and Etymology of absolve
Middle English, from Latin absolvere, from ab- + solvere to loosen — more at solve
First Known Use: 15th century
Synonym Discussion of absolve
ABSOLVE Defined for Kids
Definition of absolve for Students
: to make free from guilt or responsibility <He was absolved of wrongdoing.>
Legal Definition of absolve
1 : to set free or release from some obligation or responsibility <a judgment terminating a parent's rights…absolves that parent of all future support obligations — In re Bruce R., 662 A.2d 107 (1995)>
2 : to determine to be free of fault, guilt, or liability <a jury absolved the defendant of any negligence — Harbaugh v. Darr, 438 P.2d 74 (1968)>
Seen and Heard
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