Definition of absolve
- The jury absolved the defendants of their crimes.
- Her youth does not absolve her of responsibility for her actions.
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no amount of remorse will absolve shoplifters who are caught, and all cases will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law
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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.
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