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 The formula isn’t technically vegan or cruelty-free, although L’Oréal does not condone or perform animal testing. Sophie Dodd, Peoplemag, 14 Jan. 2024 This week, Jewish students across the country are returning to campuses that have condoned antisemitism. Sentinel Staff, Orlando Sentinel, 9 Jan. 2024 Though most Republicans don't condone the actions of those who forced their way into the Capitol, the strength of their disapproval has waned over time. Anthony Salvanto, CBS News, 6 Jan. 2024 The left’s violence, which Mr. Negri neither condemned nor condoned, continued in response. Clay Risen, New York Times, 22 Dec. 2023 Without condoning rude or even abusive language, listen for the core of the homeowner’s concern. Kelly G. Richardson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 Dec. 2023 Interior Ministry figures released this year showed that 84 percent of antisemitic crimes were committed by far-right extremists, and polls suggest that right-wing antisemitism is on the rise, condoned by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. Kate Brady, Washington Post, 22 Dec. 2023 China is less likely to condone Iranian moves that lead to further regional instability, given Beijing’s interest in maintaining a steady flow of Middle Eastern oil to China. Dalia Dassa Kaye, Foreign Affairs, 19 Oct. 2023 Airbnb’s help account replied to her post, noting that the company does not condone discrimination in any way and shared a link to its nondiscrimination policy. Christy Piña, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Dec. 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 22 Feb. 2024.

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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