extenuation

noun
ex·​ten·​u·​a·​tion | \ ik-ˌsten-yə-ˈwā-shən How to pronounce extenuation (audio) , -yü-ˈā- \

Definition of extenuation

1 : the act of extenuating something or the state of being extenuated especially : partial justification … it was never her aspiration to express herself virtuously so much as cleverly—a point to be remembered in extenuation of her words, which were usually worse than she was. — George Eliot The best we can say in extenuation is to point out that glory rather than greed prompted this act of injustice to a seaman. — Samuel Eliot Morison
2 : something extenuating especially : a partial excuse He persuades us that … he was poor and that he was financially burdened with a wife and four children. One shudders for any contemporary wretch who would come before Safire's pen with a similar budget of extenuations. — Thomas Flanagan

First Known Use of extenuation

circa 1543, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of extenuation was circa 1543

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Cite this Entry

“Extenuation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extenuation. Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

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More from Merriam-Webster on extenuation

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for extenuation

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with extenuation

Spanish Central: Translation of extenuation

Nglish: Translation of extenuation for Spanish Speakers

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