extenuate

play
verb ex·ten·u·ate \ ik-ˈsten-yə-ˌwāt , -yü-ˌāt \

Definition of extenuate

extenuated; extenuating
transitive verb
1 a archaic :to make light of
b :to lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or extent of by making partial excuses :mitigate
  • extenuating circumstances
c obsolete :disparage
2 a archaic :to make thin or emaciated
b :to lessen the strength or effect of

extenuator

play \ik-ˈsten-yə-ˌwā-tər, -yü-ˌā-\ noun

extenuatory

play \ik-ˈsten-yə-wə-ˌtȯr-ē, -yü-ə-\ adjective

extenuate was our Word of the Day on 06/30/2011. Hear the podcast!

Examples of extenuate in a Sentence

  1. don't even try to extenuate their vandalism of the cemetery with the old refrain of Boys will be boys

Recent Examples of extenuate from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'extenuate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

You have probably encountered the phrase "extenuating circumstances," which is one of the more common ways that this word turns up in modern times. "Extenuate" was borrowed into English in the 16th century from Latin extenuatus, the past participle of the verb "extenuare," which was itself formed by combining "ex-" and the verb tenuare, meaning "to make thin." In addition to the surviving senses, "extenuate" once meant "to make light of" and "to make thin or emaciated"; although those senses are now obsolete, the connection to "tenuare" can be traced somewhat more clearly through them. In addition, "extenuate" gave us the adjective extenuatory, meaning "tending to make less."

Origin and Etymology of extenuate

Latin extenuatus, past participle of extenuare, from ex- + tenuis thin — more at thin



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