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

Example Sentences

"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 One-in-five Americans actually condone political violence, according to another poll. Philip Elliott, Time, 25 Oct. 2022 While the ads do not condone violence, many use battle rhetoric that portrays Pelosi as an enemy in a fight over the nation’s future. Staff Writer Follow, Los Angeles Times, 2 Nov. 2022 In the song, Lynn and Jack White recall drinking sloe gin fizzes by the pitcher and then taking a pitcher to go, which doesn’t sound like something the OLCC would condone, but does make for an evocative song lyric. oregonlive, 4 Oct. 2022 Jenny Recktenwald, the director of marketing and communications for TARC, cited Chapter 67A of the Kentucky Revised Statutes, which states that public union employees may not sponsor or condone a strike against any public service provider. Caleb Stultz, The Courier-Journal, 12 Oct. 2022 The policy states that the U.S. acknowledges, but does not condone, China's claim of sovereignty over the Taiwan. Anders Hagstrom, Fox News, 8 Aug. 2022 Does Alaska Airlines condone this kind of leadership? Bill Oram, oregonlive, 3 Oct. 2022 Obviously, Gabby and I do not condone any behavior of bullying. Ryan Gajewski, The Hollywood Reporter, 21 Sep. 2022 However, Branch doesn't condone any hateful messages sent toward Carney, who's remained quiet online as everything's unfolded. Jack Irvin, Peoplemag, 14 Sep. 2022 See More

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

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 3 Dec. 2022.

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

History and Etymology for condone

Latin condonare to give away, absolve

More from Merriam-Webster on condone

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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