excuse

1 of 2

verb

ex·​cuse ik-ˈskyüz How to pronounce excuse (audio)
 imperatively often  ˈskyüz
excused; excusing

transitive verb

1
a
: to make apology for
b
: to try to remove blame from
2
: to forgive entirely or disregard as of trivial import : regard as excusable
graciously excused his tardiness
3
a
: to grant exemption or release to
was excused from jury duty
b
: to allow to leave
excused the class
4
: to serve as excuse for : justify
nothing can excuse such neglect
excusable adjective
excusableness noun
excusably adverb
excuser noun

excuse

2 of 2

noun

ex·​cuse ik-ˈskyüs How to pronounce excuse (audio)
1
: the act of excusing
2
a
: something offered as justification or as grounds for being excused
b
excuses plural : an expression of regret for failure to do something
c
: a note of explanation of an absence
3
Choose the Right Synonym for excuse

Verb

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

Noun

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 excuse in a Sentence

Verb His boss excused the mistake but told him to be more careful next time. Please excuse me for not calling sooner. I was excused from jury duty. The teacher excused the class from homework that day. Nothing can excuse that kind of rudeness. Her father's illness excused her absence. Noun What's your excuse for being so late? She had no valid excuse for not finishing her homework. He's always making excuses for himself. I made my excuses and left. His birthday gives us a good excuse for a party.
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Individuals facing an undue hardship might be able to be excused from jury service or postpone their jury service to a later date, the courts website said. Angela Rodriguez, Sacramento Bee, 8 May 2024 Students who stayed home Thursday, Friday and Monday due to safety concerns will have those absences excused, according to officials. Harriet Ramos, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 7 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for excuse 

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

Word History

Etymology

Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French escuser, excuser, from Latin excusare, from ex- + causa cause, explanation

First Known Use

Verb

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of excuse was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near excuse

Cite this Entry

“Excuse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/excuse. Accessed 25 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

excuse

1 of 2 verb
ex·​cuse ik-ˈskyüz How to pronounce excuse (audio)
excused; excusing
1
: to make apology for
excused myself for being late
2
: to overlook or dismiss as of little importance
excuse a mistake
3
a
: to release from doing something
excused the class from homework
b
: to allow to leave
excused the sick student from class
4
: to be an acceptable reason for : justify
nothing excuses bad manners
excusable adjective
excusably adverb
excuser noun

excuse

2 of 2 noun
ex·​cuse ik-ˈskyüs How to pronounce excuse (audio)
1
: the act of excusing
2
a
: something offered as a reason for being excused
b
: a note that explains an absence
3
: something that excuses or is a reason for excusing

Legal Definition

excuse

1 of 2 verb
ex·​cuse ik-ˈskyüz How to pronounce excuse (audio)
excused; excusing

transitive verb

1
: to grant exemption or release to
excused the prospective juror
excused the witness after an hour of testimony
2

intransitive verb

: to serve as an excuse or justification
exigent circumstances may excuseJ. J. White and R. S. Summers

excuse

2 of 2 noun
ex·​cuse ik-ˈskyüs How to pronounce excuse (audio)
1
2
a
: a circumstance that allows for release under the law from an obligation, duty, or contractual liability compare act of god, force majeure, fortuitous event, impossibility of performance
b
: a circumstance (as a physical threat) that grants immunity for otherwise tortious or criminal conduct compare justification, privilege

More from Merriam-Webster on excuse

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