absolve

verb
ab·​solve | \ əb-ˈzälv How to pronounce absolve (audio) , -ˈsälv How to pronounce absolve (audio) , -ˈzȯlv, -ˈsȯlv also without l \
absolved; absolving

Definition of absolve

transitive verb

1 formal : 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.
2 formal : to pardon or forgive (a sin) : to remit (a sin) by absolution asked the priest to absolve his sins

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Other Words from absolve

absolver noun, formal

Synonyms & Antonyms for absolve

Synonyms

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Choose the Right Synonym for absolve

exculpate, absolve, exonerate, acquit, vindicate mean to free from a charge. exculpate implies a clearing from blame or fault often in a matter of small importance. exculpating himself from the charge of overenthusiasm absolve implies a release either from an obligation that binds the conscience or from the consequences of disobeying the law or committing a sin. cannot be absolved of blame exonerate implies a complete clearance from an accusation or charge and from any attendant suspicion of blame or guilt. exonerated by the investigation acquit implies a formal decision in one's favor with respect to a definite charge. voted to acquit the defendant vindicate may refer to things as well as persons that have been subjected to critical attack or imputation of guilt, weakness, or folly, and implies a clearing effected by proving the unfairness of such criticism or blame. her judgment was vindicated

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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.

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
Recent Examples on the Web Yet those words do not absolve Jefferson in any way, shape or form of utilizing and imposing fear on minors working as slave laborers. Star Tribune, 2 July 2021 Yet outsourcing a financial process or application does not absolve finance groups of their responsibility to manage and monitor internal controls around those processes and systems. Jim Deloach, Forbes, 22 June 2021 While Winner’s less-than-cautious handling of the material might have led the NSA to her eventually, Poitras said in an interview that that should not absolve the Intercept of responsibility to handle the information carefully. Washington Post, 14 Jan. 2021 Having an alibi does not absolve one of responsibility. Christopher R. Wilder, Forbes, 15 Apr. 2021 Thus, the current G.O.P. is seeking not only to absolve Americans of the worst practices of their history but to do so while resurrecting the very practices that were cause for indictment in the first place. Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker, 29 May 2021 Some of the witnesses who were called by prosecutors appeared to absolve the officers of wrongdoing. BostonGlobe.com, 22 May 2021 In the eyes of the GOP, Cheney's mortal sin is her temerity in stating the truth about Trump's 2020 election loss and refusal to absolve the former president of his role in inciting the insurrection of January 6th. Charlie Dent, CNN, 10 May 2021 Israel maintains that the Oslo Accords absolve it of a responsibility to provide for Palestinian health care. New York Times, 20 Feb. 2021

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

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First Known Use of absolve

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for absolve

Middle English absolven, borrowed from Latin absolvere "to release, acquit, finish, complete," from ab- ab- + solvere "to loosen, release" — more at solve

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Time Traveler for absolve

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The first known use of absolve was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near absolve

absolutize

absolve

absolvitor

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Last Updated

12 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Absolve.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/absolve. Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for absolve

absolve

verb
ab·​solve | \ əb-ˈzälv How to pronounce absolve (audio) , -ˈsälv \
absolved; absolving

Kids Definition of absolve

: to make free from guilt or responsibility He was absolved of wrongdoing.

absolve

transitive verb
ab·​solve | \ əb-ˈzälv, -ˈsälv How to pronounce absolve (audio) \
absolved; absolving

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 obligationsIn 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 negligenceHarbaugh v. Darr, 438 P.2d 74 (1968)

More from Merriam-Webster on absolve

Nglish: Translation of absolve for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of absolve for Arabic Speakers

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