noun apol·o·gy \ ə-ˈpä-lə-jē \
|Updated on: 22 Jul 2018

Definition of apology

plural apologies
1 a : an admission of error or discourtesy accompanied by an expression of regret
  • a public apology
b 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.
2 a : something that is said or written to defend something that other people criticize : defense
  • The book is an apology for capitalism.
b : excuse 2a
3 informal : a poor substitute or example : makeshift
  • He's a poor apology for a father.

Recent Examples of apology from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'apology.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of apology

Middle French or Late Latin; Middle French apologie, from Late Latin apologia, from Greek, from apo- + logos speech — more at legend

Synonym Discussion of 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

APOLOGY Defined for Kids


noun apol·o·gy \ ə-ˈpä-lə-jē \

Definition of apology for Students

plural apologies
: an expression of regret for having done or said something wrong

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