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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Antonyms

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Cretton’s film is a mostly straightforward look at the attorney Bryan Stevenson’s efforts to defend death-row inmates and exonerate the wrongly accused. David Sims, The Atlantic, "The Strength of Just Mercy Is Also Its Weakness," 10 Jan. 2020 Despite the arrests and charges of heresy being laid against the order, a document known as the Chinon Parchment was found in 2001 in the Vatican’s archives which documents that the Templars were, in fact, exonerated by the Catholic Church in 1312. Patrick Masters, Quartz, "The true history of the conspiracy theories about the Knights Templar," 30 Dec. 2019 Mueller said Trump could not be exonerated on obstruction of justice and left it to Congress to decide what to do. Zeke Miller, The Denver Post, "Inside impeachment: How an “urgent” tip became “high crimes”," 22 Dec. 2019 Both newspapers also had the same secondary headline, noting Barr said Mueller’s report did not exonerate Trump on obstruction of justice. David Bauder, The Seattle Times, "Media quick to declare Trump as Mueller’s winner," 25 Mar. 2019 This year three varied stories are told through the lens of Black Lives Matter: a southern lawyer dedicated to exonerating innocent men, a warden questioning the criminal justice system’s ethics and a couple on the run after a tragic traffic stop. Cori Murray, Essence, "ESSENCE's Entertainment Director Picks What Films She's Seeing This Holiday Break," 24 Dec. 2019 Republicans had requested Volker and Morrison as witnesses and treated them far more gently - though their remarks did not fully exonerate Trump. Anchorage Daily News, "Impeachment inquiry refocuses on Trump’s call pressing Ukraine for Biden investigation," 19 Nov. 2019 But now the supposedly exonerating data have come under suspicion as well. Martin Enserink, Science | AAAS, "Can you spot the duplicates? Critics say these photos of lionfish point to fraud," 25 Sep. 2019 Many Republican lawmakers have voiced support for investigating the allegations and at least one, Sen. Gary Romine of Farmington, has raised the possibility of impeachment if an investigation does not exonerate the governor. Bryan Lowry, kansascity, "Gov. Greitens postpones tax cut tour amid scandal | The Kansas City Star," 15 Jan. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about exonerate

Time Traveler for exonerate

Time Traveler

The first known use of exonerate was in 1524

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about exonerate

Statistics for exonerate

Last Updated

16 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Exonerate.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exonerate. Accessed 21 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for exonerate

exonerate

verb
How to pronounce exonerate (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on exonerate

What made you want to look up exonerate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

good-natured easy friendliness

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

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!