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

Antonyms

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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 Bunn also said some wrongful convictions occurred because enhanced technology and processes such as DNA testing weren’t available at the time, but now enable testing to exonerate the wrongly convicted. Tom Jackman, Washington Post, "More than half of all wrongful criminal convictions are caused by government misconduct, study finds," 16 Sep. 2020 Cobb also interviews the head of a local police union about a system that seems designed to exonerate police officers from any charges of misconduct. oregonlive, "’Policing the Police 2020’: PBS documentary explores race and policing, defunding, protests, more," 16 Sep. 2020 At the 12-year mark of his prison sentence, Williams reached out to the Innocence Project with a request for the organization to exonerate him. Karen Mizoguchi, PEOPLE.com, "AGT: Exonerated Singer Archie Williams Dedicates Moving 'Flying Without Wings' Cover to His Daughter," 8 Sep. 2020 At the 12-year mark of his prison sentence, Williams reached out to the Innocence Project with a request for the organization to exonerate him. Karen Mizoguchi, PEOPLE.com, "AGT: Kelly Clarkson Praises Wrongly Convicted Singer Archie Williams for Powerful Performance," 11 Aug. 2020 Courts like finality, and even strong evidence of innocence usually won’t win a prisoner a new trial, much less exonerate him. Barbara Bradley Hagerty, Washington Post, "Taking on the hardest cases — without DNA — and setting the innocent free," 7 Aug. 2020 The committee acknowledged that a fresh investigation might also exonerate Vorayuth. Tassanee Vejpongsa, Star Tribune, "Thai prosecutors suggest drug charge against Red Bull scion," 4 Aug. 2020 Responding to national crises with splashy announcements will not fix the systemic issues of racial inequity, nor exonerate corporate America from its part in it. Kim Cordova, The Denver Post, "Guest commentary: Want racial justice? Start with your employees," 23 June 2020 Prosecutors also failed to provide video evidence that could possibly exonerate him, Reuters reported. Fox News, "Former Marine gets 9-year Russian prison sentence over drunken assault he claims to not remember," 31 July 2020

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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Time Traveler for exonerate

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The first known use of exonerate was in 1524

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Last Updated

20 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Exonerate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exonerate. Accessed 30 Sep. 2020.

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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

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