ac·​quit ə-ˈkwit How to pronounce acquit (audio)
acquitted; acquitting

transitive verb

: to discharge completely (as from an accusation or obligation)
The court acquitted the prisoner.
: to conduct (oneself) usually satisfactorily especially under stress
The recruits acquitted themselves like veterans.
archaic : to pay off (something, such as a claim or debt)
obsolete : repay, requite
acquitter noun
Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Example Sentences

The jury acquitted the defendant because there wasn't enough evidence to convict him of the crime. acquitted of the robbery charge after proving he was nowhere near the scene of the crime
Recent Examples on the Web Under state and federal law, Rule 29 refers to the request to acquit. The Enquirer, 22 Nov. 2022 There’s not a lot of time to find the right schemes that might allow the Rams to acquit themselves better offensively and keep them on the most distant fringes of playoff contention, if that’s even possible. Los Angeles Times, 13 Nov. 2022 When presented with multiple charges, jurors can convict or acquit on all or any combination of the counts. Chao Xiong, Star Tribune, 24 Feb. 2021 Donald Trump’s legal team will present his defense on Friday in a Senate impeachment trial that could wrap up with a vote this weekend on whether to convict or acquit the former president. Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner, 12 Feb. 2021 But first, Leinenweber denied the defendants’ requests to acquit them of all charges before the jury even gets the case. Megan Crepeau, Chicago Tribune, 1 Sep. 2022 Tuberville was among the 43 senators who voted to acquit Trump of impeachment charges stemming from the insurrection. Howard Koplowitz |, al, 21 July 2022 Businesses that can’t acquit themselves and evolve, will die. Steve Vassallo, Forbes, 9 Sep. 2021 Paul and other Republicans said Tuesday's vote sent a strong signal that the Senate will acquit Trump. Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner, 27 Jan. 2021 See More

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.

Word History


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 quit entry 1

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3a

Time Traveler
The first known use of acquit was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near acquit

Cite this Entry

“Acquit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


ac·​quit ə-ˈkwit How to pronounce acquit (audio)
acquitted; acquitting
: to declare innocent of a crime or wrongdoing
: to conduct (oneself) usually satisfactorily

Legal Definition


ac·​quit ə-ˈkwit How to pronounce acquit (audio)
acquitted; acquitting

transitive verb

: to discharge completely: as
: to release from liability for a debt or other obligation
usually used in agreements
forever release, acquit, and discharge each other
: to absolve (a criminal defendant) of a charge by judicial process
: to clear of wrongdoing
the fact…does not acquit them of misrepresentation In re Hiller, 694 P.2d 540 (1985)

intransitive verb

: 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

History and Etymology for acquit

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

More from Merriam-Webster on acquit

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