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

Examples of acquit in a Sentence

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 Chauvin argued that the decision to keep the proceedings in Minneapolis deprived him of his right to a fair trial because of pretrial publicity and the threat of violence and riots in the event he was acquitted. CBS News, 25 Nov. 2023 Chauvin and his legal team had argued that his 2021 trial in Minneapolis was held during a time of political upheaval, and the jury was tainted by the likelihood of even more violent riots if he had been acquitted. Brianna Herlihy, Fox News, 20 Nov. 2023 Will Bynum, 40, who played for three teams including the Detroit Pistons, was found guilty of conspiring to make false statements, but acquitted on a fraud conspiracy charge. Reuters, NBC News, 16 Nov. 2023 Woodyard is the second officer to be acquitted in McClain’s death. Melissa Noel, Essence, 7 Nov. 2023 The jury came back with a mixed verdict — finding Jones guilty of carjacking and second-degree assault but acquitting him of armed carjacking, use of a firearm and first-degree assault. Dan Morse, Washington Post, 18 Oct. 2023 Hankison was acquitted of multiple wanton endangerment charges in a state trial last year. Tesfaye Negussie, ABC News, 16 Nov. 2023 Chaplin was acquitted, although not until much dirty laundry had been aired. Louis Menand, The New Yorker, 13 Nov. 2023 Even if the House's impeachment effort against Mayorkas is eventually successful, he would likely be acquitted in a trial by the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, 13 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'acquit.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 11 Dec. 2023.

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 misrepresentationIn re Hiller, 694 P.2d 540 (1985)

intransitive verb

: to absolve a defendant of criminal liability
must acquit if any reasonable doubt existedCommonwealth v. Gagliardi, 638 N.E.2d 20 (1994)
compare convict

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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