absolve

verb
ab·​solve | \ əb-ˈzälv, -ˈsälv, -ˈzȯlv, -ˈsȯlv also without l \
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

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Other Words from absolve

absolver noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for absolve

Synonyms

acquit, clear, exculpate, exonerate, vindicate

Antonyms

criminate, incriminate

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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

But other nations are not necessarily absolved from blame. Tabor Wordelman, Teen Vogue, "You Can't Just "Clean Up" the Plastic in the Ocean. Here's Why.," 18 Dec. 2018 Much of the document is devoted to absolving Madigan and Quinn’s brother, 13th Ward Ald. Stacy St. Clair, chicagotribune.com, "Madigan aide ousted in sexual harassment texting scandal responds to woman who made the accusations," 14 June 2018 By absolving people of the responsibility for deciding when to cash in their savings, RMDs can serve as prescriptions for spending more than our mental barriers would otherwise allow. Meir Statman, WSJ, "The Mental Mistakes We Make With Retirement Spending," 24 Apr. 2017 That’s not to absolve online communities of the beliefs of their members. Casey Newton, The Verge, "The UK’s inquiry into fake news is focused on a long-dead bikini-finding app," 27 Nov. 2018 Tyndall said he was absolved of wrongdoing after an internal investigation. Harriet Ryan, latimes.com, "Students warned USC about gynecologist early in his career: ‘They missed an opportunity to save a lot of other women’," 23 May 2018 Missing from the lineup: any researcher to talk about the wealth of evidence absolving video games from violent behavior. Mike Snider, USA TODAY, "Trump to talk with video game makers, critics at Thursday White House meeting," 8 Mar. 2018 Eighty minutes had not absolved me of my compulsion to check in—with my inbox, my text messages, Instagram DMs, Twitter notifications, and more. Carrie Battan, Harper's BAZAAR, "Escaping the Seduction of Your Smartphone," 26 July 2018 In exchange, Colangelo may have pledged to take full and sole responsibility for the disclosure of information to his wife and absolved everyone else who works for the 76ers. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "Could Bryan Colangelo Still Face Legal Consequences After Parting Ways With 76ers?," 7 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.

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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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Last Updated

11 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for absolve

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

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More Definitions for absolve

absolve

verb
ab·​solve | \ əb-ˈzälv, -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 \
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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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

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