ap·​o·​lo·​gia ˌa-pə-ˈlō-j(ē-)ə How to pronounce apologia (audio)
: a defense especially of one's opinions, position, or actions
the finest apologia or explanation of what drives a man to devote his life to pure mathematicsBritish Book News

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As you might expect, apologia is a close relative of apology. Both words derive from Late Latin; apologia came to English as a direct borrowing while apology traveled through Middle French. The Latin apologia derives from a combination of the Greek prefix apo-, meaning "away from," and the word logia, from Greek lógos, meaning "speech." In their earliest English uses, apologia and apology meant basically the same thing: a formal defense or justification of one's actions or opinions. Nowadays, however, the two are distinct. The modern apology generally involves an admission of wrongdoing and an expression of regret for past actions, while an apologia typically focuses on explaining, justifying, or making clear the grounds for some course of action, belief, or position.

Choose the Right Synonym for apologia

apology, apologia, excuse, plea, pretext, alibi mean matter offered in explanation or defense.

apology usually applies to an expression of regret for a mistake or wrong with implied admission of guilt or fault and with or without reference to mitigating or extenuating circumstances.

said by way of apology that he would have met them if he could

apologia implies not admission of guilt or regret but a desire to make clear the grounds for some course, belief, or position.

his speech was an apologia for his foreign policy

excuse implies an intent to avoid or remove blame or censure.

used illness as an excuse for missing the meeting

plea stresses argument or appeal for understanding or sympathy or mercy.

her usual plea that she was nearsighted

pretext suggests subterfuge and the offering of false reasons or motives in excuse or explanation.

used any pretext to get out of work

alibi implies a desire to shift blame or evade punishment and imputes mere plausibility to the explanation.

his alibi failed to stand scrutiny

Examples of apologia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Frum’s apologia is so riddled with errors of commission, omission, perspective, and internal inconsistency that his heart hardly even seems to be in it. Dan McLaughlin, National Review, 6 Feb. 2024 An apologia writ in hair about what happens when a muscular intellect is married to frail corporate governance. Vanessa Friedman, New York Times, 27 Oct. 2023 The play at other times feels like the dramatist’s guilty apologia for leaving Kyiv when her mother refuses to budge. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 21 Sep. 2023 In a post-truth world, pugilists and zealots dismiss such scholarly arguments as apologia for Muslim violence or as a weak case for pluralism that divests Hindus of their rights as the majority. Supriya Gandhi, Foreign Affairs, 13 July 2020 Too often, the postscripts that accompany the memos—mostly written by the original authors reflecting on their policy’s subsequent ups and downs—come across as an apologia. Foreign Affairs, 22 Aug. 2023 The movie is a celebration of Barbie and a subterranean apologia for Barbie. Willa Paskin, New York Times, 11 July 2023 Turning his apologia for bad Chinese behavior into a diplomatic affront. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 21 June 2023 However, another form of personal statement gradually emerges, something previously unimaginable: an apologia for the author’s artistic techniques, evidenced until now only by his less discreet collaborators and conjectured by his most sympathetic critics. Wesley Stace, WSJ, 4 Nov. 2022

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

Word History


borrowed from Late Latin — more at apology

First Known Use

1784, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of apologia was in 1784


Dictionary Entries Near apologia

Cite this Entry

“Apologia.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apologia. Accessed 21 May. 2024.

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