extenuation

noun ex·ten·u·a·tion \ ik-ˌsten-yə-ˈwā-shən , -yü-ˈā- \
|Updated on: 12 Jun 2018

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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