extenuating

adjective ex·ten·u·at·ing \ ik-ˈsten-yə-ˌwā-tiŋ , -yü-ˌā- \
|Updated on: 12 Jun 2018

Definition of extenuating

: tending to lessen the real or apparent seriousness of something (such as a crime, offense, or fault) : providing a partial justification or excuse for something
  • … giving defense attorneys more leeway to fill in the story in the sentencing phase, during which mitigating or extenuating evidence was allowed.
  • —Joann Wypijewski
usually used in the phrase extenuating circumstances
  • Fare waivers are used by airlines to forgive advance-purchase requirements or other price markups when passengers have extenuating circumstances, such as a death in the family or a mistake in ticketing.
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • In the real world, most prosecutors crave to be in private practice, where they would defend the same people whose crimes they claim, as prosecutors, debase society, offering the same extenuating circumstances that are the object of their prosecutorial scorn.
  • —John Gregory Dunne

Did You Know?

Extenuating is almost always used today before "circumstances". Extenuating circumstances are an important concept in the law. If you steal to feed your children, you're naturally less guilty than someone who steals just to get richer; if you kill someone in self-defense, that's obviously an extenuating circumstance that makes your act different from murder. Juries will usually consider extenuating circumstances (even when they're instructed not to), and most judges will listen carefully to an argument about extenuating circumstances as well. And they work outside of the courtroom as well; if you miss your daughter's performance in the middle-school pageant, she may forgive you if it was because you had to race Tigger to the vet's emergency room.

First Known Use of extenuating

1633

in the meaning defined above

See Words from the same year
NEW! Time Traveler

Learn More about extenuating


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to grant as a privilege or special favor

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Obscure Shapes

  • a-pile-of-three-dimensional-shapes-in-green
  • Something that is ooid is shaped like:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

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!