exonerate

verb
ex·​on·​er·​ate | \ ig-ˈzä-nə-ˌrāt, eg-\
exonerated; exonerating

Definition of exonerate 

transitive verb

1 : to relieve of a responsibility, obligation, or hardship
2 : to clear from accusation or blame

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Other Words from exonerate

exoneration \ ig-​ˌzä-​nə-​ˈrā-​shən , eg-​ \ noun
exonerative \ ig-​ˈzä-​nə-​ˌrā-​tiv , eg-​ \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for exonerate

Synonyms

absolve, acquit, clear, exculpate, vindicate

Antonyms

criminate, incriminate

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Choose the Right Synonym for exonerate

exculpate, absolve, exonerate, acquit, vindicate mean to free from a charge. exculpate implies a clearing from blame or fault often in a matter of small importance. exculpating himself from the charge of overenthusiasm absolve implies a release either from an obligation that binds the conscience or from the consequences of disobeying the law or committing a sin. cannot be absolved of blame exonerate implies a complete clearance from an accusation or charge and from any attendant suspicion of blame or guilt. exonerated by the investigation acquit implies a formal decision in one's favor with respect to a definite charge. voted to acquit the defendant vindicate may refer to things as well as persons that have been subjected to critical attack or imputation of guilt, weakness, or folly, and implies a clearing effected by proving the unfairness of such criticism or blame. her judgment was vindicated

Where does exonerate come from?

We won't blame you if you don't know the origins of today's word. Exonerate derives via Middle English from the past participle of the Latin verb exonerare, meaning "to unburden," formed by combining the prefix ex- with onus, meaning "load" or "burden" (onus itself lives on with that meaning in English). In its earliest uses, dating from the 16th century, exonerate was used in the context of physical burdens—a ship, for example, could be exonerated of its cargo when it was unloaded. Later it was used in reference to any kind of burden, until a more specific sense developed, meaning "to relieve (someone) of blame."

Examples of exonerate in a Sentence

the results of the DNA fingerprinting finally exonerated the man, but only after he had wasted 10 years of his life in prison

Recent Examples on the Web

African-Americans make up nearly two-thirds of those exonerated by DNA, or 222 of the 362 former inmates. Sandra E. Garcia, The Seattle Times, "DNA evidence exonerates a man of murder after 20 years in prison," 16 Oct. 2018 Her plantation owner ordered the autopsy to prove his innocence and he was eventually exonerated. Maude Campbell, Popular Mechanics, "The Complete History of the Autopsy," 26 Dec. 2018 Jharrel will play Korey, who was charged as an adult in the case and served nearly 12 years in prison before being exonerated. Hanna Lustig, Teen Vogue, "Ava Duvernay's "Central Park Five" Adds Jharrel Jerome and Jovan Adepo to Cast," 25 July 2018 Donald Trump still believes, despite DNA evidence exonerating them, that the Central Park Five were guilty. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Benefits of Privilege: Being Rich and White Is Proof You Must Be Good," 5 Oct. 2018 However, he was exonerated of using excessive force, in part, because King County Sheriff’s Office policies did not define pointing a gun at a citizen as a use of force. Christine Clarridge, The Seattle Times, "King County Sheriff’s Office to pay motorcyclist held at gunpoint $65,000, plus change use-of-force rules," 10 Dec. 2018 Others, who may plead their innocence to no avail, are exonerated after the procedure has been carried out; this fact has led even the creator of the three-drug cocktail to reconsider his views about the death penalty. Abdullah Shihipar, Teen Vogue, "Lethal Injection Drugs and the Death Penalty, Explained," 30 Oct. 2018 The internal investigation mostly exonerated top management, including Mr. Borgen. Patricia Kowsmann, WSJ, "How One Stubborn Banker Exposed a $200 Billion Russian Money-Laundering Scandal," 23 Oct. 2018 He was originally convicted in 1985 of trying to rape and kill a woman, but DNA evidence exonerated him 18 years into his imprisonment — and, as the documentary shows, there were several mistakes made in the investigation. German Lopez, Vox, "The first season was a huge hit, and quite a bit has happened since it premiered.," 18 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'exonerate.' 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 exonerate

1524, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for exonerate

Middle English, from Latin exoneratus, past participle of exonerare to unburden, from ex- + oner-, onus load

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Statistics for exonerate

Last Updated

16 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for exonerate

The first known use of exonerate was in 1524

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More Definitions for exonerate

exonerate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of exonerate

: to prove that someone is not guilty of a crime or responsible for a problem, bad situation, etc.

exonerate

transitive verb
ex·​on·​er·​ate | \ ig-ˈzä-nə-ˌrāt, eg- \
exonerated; exonerating

Legal Definition of exonerate 

1 : to relieve especially of a charge, obligation, or hardship
2 : to clear from accusation or blame — compare acquit, exculpate

History and Etymology for exonerate

Latin exonerare to relieve, free, discharge, from ex- out + onerare to burden, from oner-, onus load

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