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

Antonyms

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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

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 And having a multitude of Black presenters does not absolve you of your lack of diversity. NBC News, "Golden Globes criticized for absence of black Hollywood Foreign Press members," 27 Feb. 2021 Smith College put out a short statement noting that Blair had not placed the phone call to security but did not absolve her of broader responsibility. Michael Powell, chicagotribune.com, "Liberal orthodoxy, race and power: How an accusation of racism, and resulting lack of evidence, is riling Smith College," 26 Feb. 2021 That the Grizzlies got uncharacteristically hot from deep doesn’t absolve the Clippers of mistakes. Andrew Greif, Los Angeles Times, "An off night for Kawhi Leonard and Paul George: Five takeaways from Clippers loss," 26 Feb. 2021 This is merely damage control intended to absolve the offending party of wrongdoing and put the burden on those who rightfully took offense at Matuschik’s statements. Bryan Rolli, Forbes, "BTS Were Once Again The Subject Of Racist On-Air Remarks—And Received A Pathetic Non-Apology," 26 Feb. 2021 Smith College put out a short statement noting that Ms. Blair had not placed the phone call to security but did not absolve her of broader responsibility. Michael Powell, New York Times, "Inside a Battle Over Race, Class and Power at Smith College," 24 Feb. 2021 But Johnson had been shilling for Trump and this moment for days, adding kindling to the megalomaniac's fire, so his last-minute switch does nothing to absolve his role in stoking this shameful day in American history. Editorial Board, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Editorial: Ron Johnson, Scott Fitzgerald and Tom Tiffany should resign or be expelled for siding with Trump against our republic," 7 Jan. 2021 Opting out of that exchange for a few months or even an election cycle does not absolve these corporations of backing a throng of far-right members of Congress. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "JPMorgan Chase and Amazon Discover Campaign Finance Reform by Way of Social Collapse," 12 Jan. 2021 Finding Julia completely innocent was a failure of justice, but more serious was the decision rendered by public opinion to blame Maud for her murder and to absolve both Julia and Fagan of any culpability. Tom Dillard, Arkansas Online, "Outcome of a sordid affair," 27 Dec. 2020

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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Last Updated

2 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Absolve.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/absolve. Accessed 2 Mar. 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)

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