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

Definition of acquit

transitive verb

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.
3a archaic : to pay off (something, such as a claim or debt)
b obsolete : repay, requite

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Other Words from acquit

acquitter noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for acquit



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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 Navy Secretary fired over SEAL case controversy Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was fired Sunday in the wake of a dispute over whether former Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher should be stripped of his Trident pin after being acquitted of war crimes. Petra Cahill, NBC News, "Navy Secretary forced out, Hong Kong's pro-democracy win, and Taylor Swift AMAs sweep: The Morning Rundown," 25 Nov. 2019 Trump has championed the matter of Navy Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, who was acquitted of murder in the stabbing death of an Islamic State militant captive but convicted of posing with the corpse while in Iraq in 2017. Robert Burns, Anchorage Daily News, "Pentagon chief fires Navy secretary over SEAL controversy," 25 Nov. 2019 If her critics had their way, Foxx would have crumbled under the pressure of media headlines that painted her as a Democratic political operative who orchestrated one of the biggest miscarriages of justice since O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murder. Dahleen Glanton,, "Column: State’s Attorney Kim Foxx will force Cook County voters to decide what’s more important, Jussie Smollett or criminal justice reform," 20 Nov. 2019 No matter the approach, the outcome appears predictable: the House indicts and the Senate acquits. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "The Two Irreconcilable Realities of the Impeachment Hearings," 14 Nov. 2019 Both buildings and the village of Money have been bought by the Tribble family, descendants of one of the jurors who acquitted Emmett Till’s killers. The Economist, "Memories of Emmett Till," 14 Nov. 2019 Eight were found guilty and removed from office, seven were acquitted, and three resigned. George Petras, USA Today, "Pathway of the impeachment process: How it works, where we are," 4 Nov. 2019 Jake Wascher, 21, of San Diego, now faces commitment to Whiting Forensic Hospital, the state’s maximum-security psychiatric institute for people acquitted of crimes because of mental disease. David Owens,, "Judge finds UHart student was psychotic when he stabbed fellow students, acquits him of assault charges," 18 Oct. 2019 Last year, jurors in two separate trials in Tucson federal court acquitted Swartz of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. Rafael Carranza, azcentral, "Family of slain Nogales, Sonora, teen will seek Arizona border agent's extradition to Mexico," 11 Oct. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of acquit

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

History and Etymology for 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 quit entry 1

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Time Traveler for acquit

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for acquit

Last Updated

28 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Acquit.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 8 December 2019.

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More Definitions for acquit


How to pronounce acquit (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of acquit

: to decide that someone is not guilty of a crime


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

Kids Definition of acquit

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.


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

Legal Definition of acquit

transitive verb

: 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 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

History and Etymology for acquit

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on acquit

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for acquit

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with acquit

Spanish Central: Translation of acquit

Nglish: Translation of acquit for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of acquit for Arabic Speakers

Comments on acquit

What made you want to look up acquit? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to constrict the range or activity of

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