con·​done kən-ˈdōn How to pronounce condone (audio)
condoned; condoning

transitive verb

: to regard or treat (something bad or blameworthy) as acceptable, forgivable, or harmless
a government accused of condoning racism
condone corruption in politics
condonable adjective
condoner noun

Did you know?

Since some folks don't condone even minor usage slips, you might want to get the meaning of this word straight. Although English speakers sometimes use condone with the intended meaning "approve of" or "encourage," the more established meaning is closer to "pardon" or "overlook." Condone comes from the Latin verb condonare, which means "to absolve." Condonare in turn combines the Latin prefix con-, indicating thoroughness, and donare, meaning "to give" or "to grant." Not surprisingly, donare is also the source of our words donate and pardon.

Choose the Right Synonym for condone

excuse, condone, pardon, forgive mean to exact neither punishment nor redress.

excuse may refer to specific acts especially in social or conventional situations or the person responsible for these.

excuse an interruption
excused them for interrupting

Often the term implies extenuating circumstances.

injustice excuses strong responses

condone implies that one overlooks without censure behavior (such as dishonesty or violence) that involves a serious breach of a moral, ethical, or legal code, and the term may refer to the behavior or to the agent responsible for it.

a society that condones alcohol but not narcotics

pardon implies that one remits a penalty due for an admitted or established offense.

pardon a criminal

forgive implies that one gives up all claim to requital and to resentment or vengeful feelings.

could not forgive their rudeness

Examples of condone in a Sentence

"I don't condone violence, and I think 'gangsta rap' should be outlawed," says [designer Tommy] Hilfiger … Joshua Levine, Forbes, 21 Apr. 1997
Without waiting for Momma's thanks, he rode out of the yard, sure that things were as they should be and that he was a gentle squire, saving those deserving serfs from the laws of the land, which he condoned. Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, 1969
And then she told him all—told him the truth word by word, without attempting to shield herself or condone her error. Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes, 1912
a government that has been accused of condoning racism he is too quick to condone his friend's faults
Recent Examples on the Web But in condoning the destruction of Hamas by Israel, Sisi courts opposition at home. Lisa Anderson, Foreign Affairs, 25 Oct. 2023 The Israeli government pushed back, blasting leaders at the United Nations and in Turkey for statements that Israeli officials said condoned Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack. William Booth, Washington Post, 25 Oct. 2023 Robin said the school had not pursued cases students reported about other posts, including one that said the writer didn't condone violence although there was an ongoing issue with the fate of Palestinians. Chantal Da Silva, NBC News, 19 Oct. 2023 So here’s a refresher: Jordan not only condoned President Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election and reject its legitimate outcome but actively plotted with the pouty president to do so. Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times, 17 Oct. 2023 Following the attacks, a number of pro-Palestinian student groups released statements and planned protests condoning the attacks and denouncing Israel's response. Jeremiah Poff, Washington Examiner, 12 Oct. 2023 Lizzo is facing another lawsuit from a former employee who alleges that the entertainer condoned a hostile work environment in which staff were subjected to harassment, discrimination and bullying. Emily Mae Czachor, CBS News, 21 Sep. 2023 But while there’s no need to condone book burning and plenty of reasons to condemn it, it shouldn’t be punished by law. Suzanne Nossel, WSJ, 21 Sep. 2023 The complaint named three hotels — among them the Fairmont Miramar — alleging hotel management had condoned or turned a blind eye to attacks on workers. Suhauna Hussain, Los Angeles Times, 1 Sep. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Latin condonare to absolve, from com- + donare to give — more at donation

First Known Use

1805, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of condone was in 1805


Dictionary Entries Near condone

Cite this Entry

“Condone.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


con·​done kən-ˈdōn How to pronounce condone (audio)
condoned; condoning
: to regard or treat (something bad) as acceptable, forgivable, or harmless
condones his friend's faults

Legal Definition


transitive verb
con·​done kən-ˈdōn How to pronounce condone (audio)
condoned; condoning
: to pardon or overlook voluntarily

Latin condonare to give away, absolve

More from Merriam-Webster on condone

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