absolve

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

Definition of absolve

transitive verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from absolve

absolver noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for absolve

Synonyms

acquit, clear, exculpate, exonerate, vindicate

Antonyms

criminate, incriminate

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

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.

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

Clearly the sales rep deceived you, but timeshare contracts typically have a clause that absolves the developer from responsibility for anything sales reps say. Liz Weston | Nerdwallet.com, oregonlive.com, "Liz Weston: You’re not going to get money back from timeshare purchase," 29 June 2019 The rise of executive lawmaking has reduced accountability and increased polarization by absolving members of Congress of the need to compromise on important questions. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Who Makes the Law?," 21 June 2019 In many mechas, even if young pilots are tainted, in a sense, by the violence of war, their innocence may still absolve them. Maya Phillips, The New Yorker, "How “Neon Genesis Evangelion” Reimagined Our Relationship to Machines," 21 June 2019 The shift also, in a way, absolves the company of responsibility for moderation. Nick Statt, The Verge, "Hundreds of active and former police officers are part of extremist Facebook groups," 14 June 2019 Mueller’s findings absolve Trump on the question of colluding with Russia but don’t entirely remove the legal threats the president and associates are facing. Chad Day, The Seattle Times, "Mueller finds no Trump collusion, leaves obstruction open," 25 Mar. 2019 Photo: Scott Taetsch/Getty Images None of this is meant to absolve players for their past social-media lives. Jared Diamond, WSJ, "Baseball Tries to Clean Up After Social-Media Fouls," 21 Aug. 2018 The Citizens’ Climate Lobby, the other group lobbying for a carbon price, has a fee and dividend model that doesn’t absolve oil companies of liability. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Exxon is lobbying for a carbon tax. There is, obviously, a catch.," 18 Oct. 2018 Although Premier has objected to these claims, the matter will be absolved when the sale is completed, court papers show. Lillian Rizzo, WSJ, "Titanic Artifacts May Soon Join Apollo, Alta Portfolios," 20 June 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about absolve

Listen to Our Podcast about absolve

Statistics for absolve

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for absolve

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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)

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on absolve

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with absolve

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for absolve

Spanish Central: Translation of absolve

Nglish: Translation of absolve for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of absolve for Arabic Speakers

Comments on absolve

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a small bunch of flowers

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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