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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from absolve

absolver noun, formal

Synonyms & Antonyms for absolve

Synonyms

Antonyms

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 If regulation of self-driving cars is based on public pressure and juries' decisions, car manufacturers might be absolved of blame pretty easily. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "When both drivers are in error, people blame the human one more," 31 Oct. 2019 In May 2018, NBC Universal released the findings of an investigation that absolved top news executives. John Koblin, New York Times, "Rachel Maddow Confronts Her NBC News Bosses Live, on the Air," 25 Oct. 2019 Rebrikov said that if regulators OK an experiment and something goes wrong, the researcher should be absolved. Jon Cohen, Science | AAAS, "Embattled Russian scientist sharpens plans to create gene-edited babies," 21 Oct. 2019 The giant food brands are only part of the problem but that hardly absolves them from leading the solution. Washington Post, "Doritos, Snickers and Pizza Are Under Attack," 10 Oct. 2019 But since both of those votes, Mueller has completed his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and released a scathing report that did not absolve the president of obstructing justice. Christal Hayes, USA TODAY, "'Unfit to be president': House to consider articles of impeachment against Trump," 23 May 2019 Sunday did not absolve Miley of his first-inning issues. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Astros blast Royals to cap sweep," 15 Sep. 2019 Being gracious during the stay doesn't absolve bad behavior after the fact. Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, "Caroly Hax: Now Goldilocks is looking at hotel porridge and beds," 12 Sep. 2019 Being gracious during the stay doesn’t absolve bad behavior after the fact. Carolyn Hax, The Mercury News, "Carolyn Hax: We were banned because my wife offered helpful hints to hostess," 12 Sep. 2019

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

15 Nov 2019

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.
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

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

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

the exactly right word or phrasing

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • rotelle pasta
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

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!