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
Attorneys for the companies that own and manage the ship have asked a judge in federal court to excuse them from any liability for the disaster or cap damages at $43 million. Nik Popli, TIME, 5 Apr. 2024 The sketch is Youssef trying to excuse the many embarrassing moments. Andy Hoglund, EW.com, 31 Mar. 2024 My hunch was proved correct when Mother got up suddenly, excused herself from Mma Zakiya, and walked me into our chambers. Mohammed Naseehu Ali, The New Yorker, 25 Mar. 2024 But understanding these pressures is not the same as excusing them. Andrew Exum, The Atlantic, 18 Mar. 2024 Schools offer excused absences to witness the event Some school districts are leaving the choice up to parents. USA TODAY, 2 Apr. 2024 This list barely scrapes the surface, so please excuse the absence of Howdy Glenn, Stoney Edwards, Bobby Womack, Dona Mason, Kane Brown, Rhiannon Giddens, Amythyst Kiah, Miko Marks, Allison Russell, and scores more. Stephen Deusner, SPIN, 1 Apr. 2024 That does not, however, excuse being willfully stupid about financial transactions. Jay Adkisson, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2024 District staff are also accused of flouting district policy by excusing absences after allowing students to walk out of class for unauthorized protests. Sierra Lopez, The Mercury News, 1 Mar. 2024
Noun
The problem was that the testing-optional policy remained in place long after Covid had faded away, which suggested that the pandemic was a pretextual excuse, and ideological considerations rather than epidemiological ones had driven it all along. The Editors, National Review, 16 Apr. 2024 Yet another excuse to enjoy an extra-long and toasty shower: Taking big breaths of steamy or misty air can thin and loosen even the most stubborn gunk. Alexis Berger, SELF, 15 Apr. 2024 Major professional sports in Sacramento are not seen through the lens of wealthy franchise owners dangling nostalgia as an excuse to run a perennially disappointing baseball franchise. Shomik Mukherjee, The Mercury News, 14 Apr. 2024 There’s just zero excuse for her behavior, either way. Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 9 Apr. 2024 The flavors and frying forms are endlessly versatile and offer a great excuse to load up on cheese, sour cream or ketchup. Clare Mulroy, USA TODAY, 7 Apr. 2024 Those qualities somewhat eclipse the central question of the wayward young granddaughter, which primarily serves as an excuse to watch Sugar work – sifting through sleazy, Hollywood-style dirty laundry – without really needing to drive the narrative. Brian Lowry, CNN, 4 Apr. 2024 Hendry emphasized that the judges in these cases need to do their jobs and stop making excuses. Stepheny Price, Fox News, 1 Apr. 2024 Those who use this as an excuse to hate Jews tend to forget that Jesus, in His earthly body, was a Jew, and therefore loved them. Bea L. Hines, Miami Herald, 29 Mar. 2024

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 20 Apr. 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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