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

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Other Words from absolve

absolver noun, formal

Synonyms & Antonyms for absolve

Synonyms

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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 One posting seemed to absolve the social network of complicity in fostering Russian election disinformation, antisemitism, medical misinformation and hoaxes. Washington Post, "David Brooks of New York Times criticized for undisclosed financial ties to project he praised," 4 Mar. 2021 The book has drawn criticism for a deterministic view that seems to absolve colonial powers of responsibility for their choices. New York Times, "Postcard From Peru: Why the Morality Plays Inside The Times Won’t Stop," 14 Feb. 2021 And drafting Etienne could absolve Miami’s failure to draft one of top six running backs taken in the first and second rounds a year ago. Safid Deen, sun-sentinel.com, "Clemson’s Travis Etienne believes he’s the top RB in the 2021 NFL draft. Could Dolphins select him in April?," 6 Mar. 2021 The investigation did not, in fact, absolve Miles of wrongdoing, USA TODAY has learned from independent sources. Kenny Jacoby, USA TODAY, "Attorney for former LSU football coach Les Miles wants internal investigation released," 3 Mar. 2021 Star used the king of YouTube to absolve himself of any part in the drama, and Dawson used Star as a way into the highly profitable beauty world. Zoe Haylock, Vulture, "Welcome to the Circus," 2 Mar. 2021 But that doesn’t absolve leaders from taking responsibility for their missteps. Rachel Cohrs, STAT, "Andrew Cuomo’s Covid-19 nursing home fiasco shows the ethical perils of pandemic policymaking," 27 Feb. 2021 The book did not, as some have claimed, absolve Japan of responsibility or deny the comfort women’s brutal victimization. Jeannie Suk Gersen, The New Yorker, "Seeking the True Story of the Comfort Women," 26 Feb. 2021 The President could absolve any wrongdoing, however, by issuing a pre-emptive pardon—something that is in his power to do. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "Trump pardons: 7 high profile people who may get one," 18 Dec. 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

26 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Absolve.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/absolve. Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.

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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.

absolve

transitive verb
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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