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

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Other Words from excuse

Verb

excusable \ ik-​ˈskyü-​zə-​bəl How to pronounce excusable (audio) \ adjective
excusableness noun
excusably \ ik-​ˈskyü-​zə-​blē How to pronounce excusably (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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Civil rights activists, however, complained that officers rushed to excuse Zimmerman because Martin was black and Zimmerman is not. Los Angeles Times, "Two arrested in Georgia as anger builds over shooting of Ahmaud Arbery," 7 May 2020 Vinson said the city charter requires the city attorney to be at the council meetings unless excused. Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, "Warren Mayor Jim Fouts, council dispute over city attorney could cost taxpayers," 6 May 2020 Critics, however, perceive Blue Lives Matter as an attempt to undermine a civil rights movement and excuse violence perpetrated by police officers. Rachel Swan, SFChronicle.com, "SF police chief to replace ‘thin blue line’ masks that provoked controversy," 2 May 2020 Seeing Dave appears to be emotional for Scott, who excuses himself from the table as Kim talks about her memories of his mother, Bonnie. Robyn Merrett, PEOPLE.com, "KUWTK Teaser Shows the Family Coping amid Coronavirus — and Wondering If Khloé and Tristan Hooked Up," 30 Apr. 2020 With nearly a third of American renters failing to pay rent during the first week of April, landlords are scrambling to determine which tenants were excused because of lost jobs—and which ones are using the coronavirus as a cover for not paying. Will Parker, WSJ, "Some Landlords Eyeing Tenants With Jobs Who Didn’t Pay Rent," 8 Apr. 2020 Then finally last week the landlord decided to defer or excuse some of the payments. Ryan Randazzo, azcentral, "Arizona governor halts evictions of small businesses, giving relief to thousands," 6 Apr. 2020 Thirty votes were needed to fund the bill with money from the state’s Constitutional Budget Reserve, but 11 Republicans voted against the spending and two more were excused absent, leaving the 40-member House three votes short. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska House again fails to fully fund coronavirus response, wildfire recovery and Medicaid," 26 Mar. 2020 An Arkansas property owner also excused his restaurant tenants earlier this month from having to pay rent. Khristopher J. Brooks, CBS News, "Restaurant owner tells his workers: "We're going to get through this together"," 24 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Chinese government immediately hit back and said the United States was using China as an excuse to shirk financial obligations that had been jointly determined by WHO member states. Teo Armus, BostonGlobe.com, "Trump threatens to permanently cut WHO funding, leave body if changes aren’t made within 30 days," 19 May 2020 Initially provoked the other person intending to use force as an excuse to inflict harm. NBC News, "Were pursuit and killing of Ahmaud Arbery 'perfectly legal'? It's not that simple.," 6 May 2020 McLaren team boss Zak Brown decried Pagenaud's behavior, and many F1 and IndyCar fans—including those in the media—took it as an excuse to get tribal and tell the other side why their particular flavor of open-wheel racing wasn't any good. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Drama in iRacing as IndyCar champ wrecks F1 star on purpose," 4 May 2020 Here’s how to stream TV without paying a dime An excellent lesson for those of us in danger of using the shutdown as an excuse to, well, wallow. Los Angeles Times, "Column: We all love a nostalgia trip like the ‘Parks and Rec’ reunion. Here’s why it’s dangerous," 1 May 2020 The coronavirus pandemic has rapidly emerged as the excuse everyone has been looking for to start a conflict with China—a trend that’s disturbingly spreading beyond Republican politics. Adam Weinstein, The New Republic, "The Bipartisan Appeal of “Yellow Peril” Politics," 29 Apr. 2020 Prime Minister Viktor Orban has lurched further towards authoritarianism during the pandemic, using the outbreak as an excuse to impose sweeping and indefinite emergency powers. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "The coronavirus is pushing the crisis-marred EU to a new breaking point," 17 Apr. 2020 Too many people are hearing and heeding the wrong messages, and will see any opening as an excuse to immediately get back to normal. Laura Johnston, cleveland, "Is staying at home the only way to flatten the coronavirus curve? What if there were another way?," 6 Apr. 2020 Aside from cracking open a new book, Carmichael's recommends using the next few weeks as an excuse to do a puzzle or play a game. Kathryn Gregory, The Courier-Journal, "Stuck at home? These 10 books from Carmichael's will help you support local, pass the time," 17 Mar. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for excuse

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for excuse

Last Updated

22 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Excuse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/excuse. Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for excuse

excuse

verb
How to pronounce excuse (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of excuse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to forgive someone for making a mistake, doing something wrong, etc.,
: to say that (someone) is not required to do something
: to allow (someone, such as a child) to leave

excuse

noun
How to pronounce excuse (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of excuse (Entry 2 of 2)

: a reason that you give to explain a mistake, bad behavior, etc.
: reasons that you give to explain politely why you cannot do something, why you have to leave, etc.
: something (such as a condition or set of conditions) that explains improper behavior and makes it acceptable

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

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)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on excuse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for excuse

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with excuse

Spanish Central: Translation of excuse

Nglish: Translation of excuse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of excuse for Arabic Speakers

Comments on excuse

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