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

That absolved him and made him a Cleveland hero forever. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, "His legacy secure, LeBron James is a Cleveland hero forever even with Lakers decision," 1 July 2018 No current behavior can absolve him of his role in shaping Gilead. refinery29.com, "Meet Commander Lawrence, The Most Destabilizing Presence On The Handmaid's Tale," 10 July 2018 The Tuscaloosa mayor's campaign said Cobb was not absolved from blame. Howard Koplowitz, AL.com, "James Fields calls out Maddox campaign over Cobb heckling," 25 Apr. 2018 But do not use grief as a tool to absolve him of his abusive behavior. refinery29.com, "XXXtentacion & The Dangers Of Honoring Black Men Unconditionally," 27 June 2018 With a key deadline a month away, two national paint companies are turning up the pressure on California lawmakers to absolve them of potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in legal penalties from lead paint hazards. Liam Dillon, latimes.com, "Major paint companies lobby California lawmakers to overturn a court ruling forcing them to clean up lead in homes," 29 May 2018 Genius, it is ordinarily assumed, is erected on the tortured soul, one that is absolved hence from its tortures of others. Dana Snitzky, Longreads, "Hemingway’s Last Girl," 12 July 2018 Her critics argue that advanced age should not absolve her of having to pay the consequences for her actions — lying under oath, according to the book. Eugene Scott, Washington Post, "Why there’s little optimism after the Justice Department reopened the Emmett Till case," 12 July 2018 After creating a straw-man argument that women just weren’t interested in working on an award-winning TV show, Letterman sets out to further absolve himself of guilt. Nell Scovell, The Cut, "David Letterman Just Can’t Figure Out Why He Never Had Women Writers," 14 May 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

18 Oct 2018

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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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