excuse

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

Definition of excuse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : 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
3a : 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

excuse

noun
ex·​cuse | \ ik-ˈskyüs How to pronounce excuse (audio) \

Definition of excuse (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act of excusing
2a : 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

Other Words from excuse

Verb

excusable \ ik-​ˈskyü-​zə-​bəl How to pronounce excuse (audio) \ adjective
excusableness noun
excusably \ ik-​ˈskyü-​zə-​blē How to pronounce excuse (audio) \ adverb
excuser noun

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The defendant pleaded guilty to the murders last October, eliminating the defense’s ability to use insanity to explain or excuse his actions. Rafael Olmeda, Sun Sentinel, 12 Sep. 2022 People are quick to find fault with ambitious, successful women and to excuse unethical men. Alia E. Dastagir, USA TODAY, 23 Aug. 2022 Lionel, who lived, excuse me, LIVED through the '70s, is having the time of his life. Maggie Fremont, EW.com, 8 Mar. 2021 One of the reasons this turnaround has shocked so many is that, after Manchin appeared to kill climate spending earlier this month, the mainstream media was happy to excuse his behavior by scapegoating voters. Liza Featherstone, The New Republic, 29 July 2022 This cognitive dissonance sometimes helps to excuse the actions of the mob itself. WSJ, 16 May 2022 These shifts in the film between earnestness and anything-for-a-laugh comedy sometimes feel off, allowing the audience to excuse the characters’ bad behavior as silly, not reckless. Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times, 29 July 2022 The motion asks Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who’s overseeing the special grand jury to excuse the 11 electors from appearing before the panel. Kate Brumback, Anchorage Daily News, 20 July 2022 The motion asks Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who's overseeing the special grand jury to excuse the 11 electors from appearing. Kate Brumback, ajc, 19 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This isn't the first time Musk's lawyers have turned to Zatko for an excuse to walk away from the Twitter acquisition. Nathaniel Mott, PCMAG, 10 Sep. 2022 Just don’t try that excuse on Phoenix Normand, chief of staff at a tech company in California. Callum Borchers, WSJ, 8 Sep. 2022 Twitter sued Musk on July 12, arguing that Musk is looking for an excuse to bow out of the deal after his personal net worth fell with the drop-off in Tesla’s stock price. Todd Spangler, Variety, 30 Aug. 2022 Twitter maintains that its SEC filings were accurate and that Musk is looking for an excuse to wriggle out of the deal. Winston Cho, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Aug. 2022 Any good excuse to wear pj's in public is the dream, right? Terri Robertson, Country Living, 16 Aug. 2022 Didone acknowledged that, around the country, too many officers took the practice too far — coming up with any excuse to pull over a car, for example. Dan Morse, Washington Post, 11 July 2022 High traffic and call volume is one thing, but the airlines can’t use that excuse for months. Christopher Elliott, BostonGlobe.com, 8 June 2022 The clients were happy for an excuse to get new hardwood floors! Ann Abel, House Beautiful, 1 June 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of excuse

Verb

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

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for excuse

Verb

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

Learn More About excuse

Time Traveler for excuse

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near excuse

excusatory

excuse

excuseless

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for excuse

Last Updated

18 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Excuse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/excuse. Accessed 26 Sep. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for excuse

excuse

verb
ex·​cuse | \ ik-ˈskyüz How to pronounce excuse (audio) \
excused; excusing

Kids Definition of excuse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to make apology for I excused myself for being late.
2 : to overlook or pardon as of little importance "You must excuse my gruff conduct," the watchdog said …— Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth
3 : to let off from doing something He was excused from chores for a week.
4 : to be an acceptable reason for Nothing excuses bad manners.

excuse

noun
ex·​cuse | \ ik-ˈskyüs How to pronounce excuse (audio) \

Kids Definition of excuse (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a reason given for having done something wrong What's your excuse for being so late?
2 : something that is an acceptable reason for or justifies There is no excuse for bad behavior.
3 : a reason for doing something That's a good excuse for a party.

excuse

verb
ex·​cuse | \ ik-ˈskyüz How to pronounce excuse (audio) \
excused; excusing

Legal Definition of excuse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

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

excuse

noun
ex·​cuse | \ ik-ˈskyüs How to pronounce excuse (audio) \

Legal Definition of excuse (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : excusal
2a : 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

Nglish: Translation of excuse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of excuse for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!