exonerate

verb
ex·​on·​er·​ate | \ ig-ˈzä-nə-ˌrāt How to pronounce exonerate (audio) , 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 How to pronounce exoneration (audio) , eg-​ \ noun
exonerative \ ig-​ˈzä-​nə-​ˌrā-​tiv How to pronounce exonerative (audio) , 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

Image: Getty The Mueller report has exonerated President Trump and his campaign of Russian collusion. Yuri Vanetik, WSJ, "Russiagate’s Collateral Victims," 11 Apr. 2019 Nkrumah's client, Jamal Russell, was eventually convicted on a drug charge and exonerated on a weapons count. Larry Neumeister, Fox News, "Lawyer tries Trump argument that flippers should be outlawed," 28 Aug. 2018 Durbin also asked if Kavanaugh thought the testimony of his friend Mark Judge would help exonerate him. Ella Nilsen, Vox, "A Democratic senator tried to get Brett Kavanaugh to commit to an FBI investigation. He would not.," 27 Sep. 2018 He was sentenced on Oct. Oct. 21, 1988, but was later exonerated after the true rapist turned himself in after reading a series of stories chronicling Green's life after his release. Justin Madden, cleveland.com, "Once wrongly convicted, Michael Green takes oath as auxiliary police officer in Maple Heights," 5 Apr. 2018 Consider the battery of attorneys who worked so hard to exonerate O.J. Simpson. James Atlas, Town & Country, "The Year of the Celebrity Super Lawyer," 3 Dec. 2018 Why did Ben’s mom give the affidavit to Thorpe to use as leverage to get Bass Industries instead of taking it to the D.A. herself to exonerate Ben? Elizabeth Logan, Glamour, "Every Single Episode of Gossip Girl, Ranked," 19 Sep. 2018 Malcolm Bryant, who was serving a life sentence for the killing of a teenage girl, was exonerated by DNA evidence. Tim Prudente, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore man exonerated of murder after 30 years in prison," 2 July 2018 And at least two principals who have been taken out of their schools — Mr. Zeimer and Kathleen Elvin, who was removed as principal of John Dewey High School in Brooklyn in 2015 — were later exonerated by arbitrators of all or most of the charges. New York Times, "A New Principal Pushes for Change. Then the Investigations Start.," 3 June 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

5 Jun 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

formal : 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- How to pronounce exonerate (audio) \
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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