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



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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 The cheap carry-on staple absolves a number of travel sins: disgusting tray tables, understocked public loos, and your own post-long-haul grime. Fortune Editors, Fortune, "The Best Business Travel Tips: From What to Pack to Boarding Pass and Everything in Between," 7 Dec. 2019 This latest argument by Energy Transfer seeks to convince a Delaware judge that Williams was in breach of the merger agreement and absolves Energy Transfer from having to pay anything. Bloomberg Wire, Dallas News, "Energy Transfer accuses rival CEO of undermining massive pipeline deal in 2016," 21 Feb. 2020 Pastrnak’s goal, which pulled him into a tie with Auston Matthews for the league lead, absolved the visitors from an 0-for-7 performance on the power play. Matt Porter, BostonGlobe.com, "Bruins start Western Swing on right note with David Pastrnak’s winning OT goal in Edmonton," 20 Feb. 2020 Money is the great leveler in the industry, absolving all sins, including creative ones. Mark Olsenstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Indie Focus: Turmoil in the French suburbs in ‘Les Misérables’," 10 Jan. 2020 Pardon is a process, following an application, of executive clemency under which the governor absolves the grantee of guilt for a crime and exempts them from penalties for those crimes. Hannah Gaskill, baltimoresun.com, "Larry Hogan grants parole to juvenile lifers, the first time a Maryland governor has done so in decades," 23 Nov. 2019 It must be added that the RFEF absolved Griezmann himself of any wrongdoing in their investigation, with the World Cup winner now able to focus on his on-field activities. SI.com, "Barcelona Set to Appeal Minuscule €300 Fine for 'Tapping Up' Antoine Griezmann," 26 Sep. 2019 No, this is not an attempt to absolve the Spurs of everything. Mike Finger, ExpressNews.com, "Finger: Looking back, could Spurs have dodged spiral?," 11 Feb. 2020 Perhaps that is why so many Syrians adhere to a fable that tends to absolve their own side. Robert F. Worth, The New York Review of Books, "And the Oscar Goes to… A Simplified Story of Syria’s Civil War," 6 Feb. 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

21 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Absolve.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/absolve. Accessed 29 Mar. 2020.

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More Definitions for absolve


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.
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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More from Merriam-Webster on absolve

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for absolve

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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