apol·​o·​gy ə-ˈpä-lə-jē How to pronounce apology (audio)
plural apologies
: an admission of error or discourtesy accompanied by an expression of regret
a public apology
apologies plural : an expression of regret for not being able to do something
I won't be able to attend. Please give them my apologies.
: something that is said or written to defend something that other people criticize : defense
The book is an apology for capitalism.
informal : a poor substitute or example : makeshift
He's a poor apology for a father.
Choose the Right Synonym for apology

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 apology in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Ruby Franke, a Utah mother of six who gave parenting advice to millions via a once-popular a YouTube channel, shared a tearful apology to her children for physically and emotionally abusing them before a judge delivered a sentence that could put her in prison for years, if not decades. Hannah Schoenbaum, Fortune, 21 Feb. 2024 The books were not the reason that Khadr was transferred to a Canadian prison, in 2012, and released a few years later, ultimately obtaining a formal apology from the Canadian government and a large cash settlement. Claudia Roth Pierpont, The New Yorker, 19 Feb. 2024 The San Francisco resolution was touted as historic by the board, but during the public comment period numerous San Franciscans — including some on the African American Reparations Advisory Committee — expressed skepticism that an apology would lead to more substantive action. Noah Goldberg, Los Angeles Times, 16 Feb. 2024 Afterward, the government faced an outcry from the public demanding answers — and apologies from whoever would turn out to be responsible. Jin Yu Young, New York Times, 15 Feb. 2024 Prior to Stewart’s infidelity, the couple were seen cuddling at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2012 and had a date night in Hollywood in July 2012, just days before the actress’s public apology. Collette Reitz, Peoplemag, 15 Feb. 2024 Miss Manners would support your both attending the funeral, with appropriate apologies to the bride, the bridegroom and the bridegroom’s mother. Judith Martin, The Mercury News, 14 Feb. 2024 In December 2023, West posted an apology to the Jewish people, written in Hebrew. Ethan Shanfeld, Variety, 9 Feb. 2024 Shortly after the statement was posted on X, Isaac Bennett, senior pastor of Forerunner Church, issued an apology of his own. Judy L. Thomas, Kansas City Star, 9 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'apology.' 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 apologe "formal defense," borrowed from Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French apologie "public defense in speech or writing," borrowed from Late Latin apologia, borrowed from Greek apología "speech in defense" (Late Greek, "speech in defense of the Christian faith by a martyr, excuse, vindication before God"), derivative (with -ia -ia entry 1) of apologeîsthai "to speak in defense, defend oneself" — more at apologetic entry 1

First Known Use

1533, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

Time Traveler
The first known use of apology was in 1533

Dictionary Entries Near apology

Cite this Entry

“Apology.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apology. Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


apol·​o·​gy ə-ˈpäl-ə-jē How to pronounce apology (audio)
plural apologies
: an expression of regret (as for a mistake or for rudeness)
: a poor example

More from Merriam-Webster on apology

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!