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



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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 Of those who have been exonerated by DNA evidence, nearly three-quarters of them were convicted in the first place because of faulty eyewitness testimony. CBS News, "How faulty eyewitness testimony can lead to wrongful convictions," 9 Sep. 2019 The actor and his attorneys have steadfastly maintained his innocence and claimed he had been exonerated by the actions of Foxx’s office. Megan Crepeau, chicagotribune.com, "Judge could soon announce special prosecutor to look into dismissal of Jussie Smollett charges," 16 Aug. 2019 Much of the Republican base, trapped within the bubble of Trump’s tweets and Fox News, regards Gardner’s truths about Russia as a treasonous hoax, and believes that the Mueller report exonerates the president. David Goldfischer, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: Gardner has put pressure on Russia; now he must hold the president accountable," 21 June 2019 The 71-year-old retiree from Hypoluxo, Florida, speaks about him with passion and insists he has been exonerated. Matt Sedensky, The Seattle Times, "Some Americans cheer Mueller’s report, others feel let down," 26 Mar. 2019 Woods was the longest-serving women to be wrongfully convicted and then exonerated, according to the National Registry of Exonerations. Fox News, "Nevada woman exonerated after serving 35 years for murder gets $3M award," 29 Aug. 2019 At 16, Korey Wise was the oldest of the five teens convicted — and later exonerated — in the Central Park Jogger case. Heather Finn, Good Housekeeping, "What the 'When They See Us' Cast Looks Like vs. The Real People They Play," 3 June 2019 But a 1989 state Supreme Court opinion rejected the recording as uncorroborated hearsay that wouldn't have exonerated West. CBS News, "Tennessee executes inmate in electric chair for killing mother and daughter in 1986," 15 Aug. 2019 Patriotologists will have to refrain from wagging their finger westward at Chiefs coach Andy Reid, at least until Brown is exonerated or his accuser’s claims are discredited. BostonGlobe.com, "Before this, Brown simply had sports baggage — being self-absorbed, selfish, unreliable, and temperamental. The type of stuff teams can write off with bromides about fresh starts and clean slates. The type of stuff fans forgive at the sight of preferred laundry.," 12 Sep. 2019

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

6 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for exonerate

The first known use of exonerate was in 1524

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More Definitions for exonerate


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.


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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Comments on exonerate

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concealed or difficult to comprehend

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