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

Other Words from exonerate

exoneration \ ig-​ˌzä-​nə-​ˈrā-​shən How to pronounce exonerate (audio) , eg-​ \ noun
exonerative \ ig-​ˈzä-​nə-​ˌrā-​tiv How to pronounce exonerate (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?

Exonerate comes from the Latin verb exonerare, meaning "to unburden." That verb combines the prefix ex- with onus, meaning "load" or "burden." In its earliest uses, exonerate was applied to physical burdens—a ship, for example, could be exonerated of its cargo when it was unloaded. Later it was used in reference to the freeing of any kind of burden, including blame or charges of wrongdoing.

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 So joining me now is Rebecca Brown, the director of policy at the Innocence Project, which works to exonerate people who've been wrongfully convicted. NBC News, 4 Sep. 2022 Serra and others walk us through the procedural argument and evidence used to exonerate Lee, but the movie resists becoming a story of their Herculean efforts, with Lee’s exoneration poised to feel like a triumphant climax, a win for the team. K. Austin Collins, Rolling Stone, 22 Aug. 2022 Surveillance footage shared by the police from the first attack showed a man wearing black pants and a black hooded sweatshirt bearing the logo of the Innocence Project, the group that helps exonerate the wrongfully convicted. New York Times, 12 July 2022 And Robert Kennedy was determined to exonerate his cousin. CBS News, 6 Nov. 2021 Abe was very clear that much of his effort was to exonerate the name of his grandfather, who had been labelled a class-A war criminal. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 9 July 2022 At the same time, Painter pointed out how affording her that recognition might conveniently exonerate those who profited from her exhibitionistic willingness. Heidi Julavits, Vulture, 8 Dec. 2021 But even if Brafman persuaded a New York jury to exonerate his client, Weinstein still faced potential criminal charges in Los Angeles, London, and Dublin. Ken Auletta, The New Yorker, 30 May 2022 Realistically, Cassie would probably be in jail by episode four or at least fired, and the show would shift to a more somber note where Ani (Zosia Mamet) and Max (Deniz Akdeniz) work to exonerate their friend. Harika Manne, refinery29.com, 22 May 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of exonerate was in 1524

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Last Updated

9 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Exonerate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exonerate. Accessed 2 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for 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

More from Merriam-Webster on exonerate

Nglish: Translation of exonerate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of exonerate for Arabic Speakers


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