verb ac·quit \ ə-ˈkwit \
|Updated on: 21 Aug 2018

Definition of acquit

acquitted; acquitting
1 : to discharge completely (as from an accusation or obligation)
  • The court acquitted the prisoner.
2 : to conduct (oneself) usually satisfactorily especially under stress
  • The recruits acquitted themselves like veterans.
3 a archaic : to pay off (something, such as a claim or debt)
b obsolete : repay, requite



Examples of acquit in a Sentence

  1. The jury acquitted the defendant because there wasn't enough evidence to convict him of the crime.

  2. acquitted of the robbery charge after proving he was nowhere near the scene of the crime

Recent Examples of acquit from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'acquit.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of acquit

Middle English aquiten, borrowed from Anglo-French aquiter, from a-, prefix forming transitive verbs (going back to Latin ad- ad-) + -quiter, verbal derivative of quite "free, discharged" — more at 1quit

Synonym Discussion of acquit

behave, conduct, deport, comport, acquit mean to act or to cause oneself to do something in a certain way. behave may apply to the meeting of a standard of what is proper or decorous.
    • the children behaved in church
conduct implies action or behavior that shows the extent of one's power to control or direct oneself.
    • conducted herself with unfailing good humor
deport implies behaving so as to show how far one conforms to conventional rules of discipline or propriety.
    • the hero deported himself in accord with the code of chivalry
comport suggests conduct measured by what is expected or required of one in a certain class or position.
    • comported themselves as gentlemen
acquit applies to action under stress that deserves praise or meets expectations.
    • acquitted herself well in her first assignment
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

ACQUIT Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of acquit for English Language Learners

  • : to decide that someone is not guilty of a crime

ACQUIT Defined for Kids


verb ac·quit \ ə-ˈkwit \

Definition of acquit for Students

acquitted; acquitting
1 : to declare innocent of a crime or of wrongdoing
2 : to behave in a certain way
  • You are to acquit yourselves as young ladies and gentlemen.

Law Dictionary


verb ac·quit \ ə-ˈkwit \

legal Definition of acquit

acquitted; acquitting
: to discharge completely: as
a : to release from liability for a debt or other obligation usually used in agreements
  • forever release, acquit, and discharge each other
b : to absolve (a criminal defendant) of a charge by judicial process
c : to clear of wrongdoing
  • the fact…does not acquit them of misrepresentation
  • In re Hiller, 694 P.2d 540 (1985)
: to absolve a defendant of criminal liability
  • must acquit if any reasonable doubt existed
  • Commonwealth v. Gagliardi, 638 N.E.2d 20 (1994)
— compare convict

Origin and Etymology of acquit

Old French acquiter to pay off, absolve, acquit, from a-, prefix marking causation + quite free (of an obligation)

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