jus·ti·fi·ca·tion | \ˌjə-stə-fə-ˈkā-shən \

Definition of justification 

1a : the act or an instance of justifying something : vindication arguments offered in justification of their choice

b : an acceptable reason for doing something : something that justifies an act or way of behaving could provide no justification for his decision

2 : the act, process, or state of being justified by God (see justify sense 2a)

3 : the process or result of justifying lines of text (see justify sense 3a) software that provides automatic justification of text

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Synonyms for justification


alibi, apology, defense, excuse, plea, reason

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Examples of justification in a Sentence

He tried to present a justification for his behavior. There is no possible justification for what she did. His behavior is without justification.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Whereas the term Manifest Destiny had been coined as a justification for conquering great swaths of the continent at gunpoint, Gilpin transformed it into a more wholesome interpretation that pulled peoples across the nation. Johnforristerross, Longreads, "Taming the Great American Desert," 2 July 2018 Mario Draghi, its president, points to growth in hourly pay of 1.8% as a justification for the move. The Economist, "The rich world needs higher real wage growth," 30 June 2018 This kind of paranoid rhetoric, which should sound familiar to American ears, is a hallmark of Orbán’s public commentary — and has served as a justification for all sorts of different anti-democratic and anti-minority crackdowns. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "Hungary just passed a “Stop Soros” law that makes it illegal to help undocumented migrants," 22 June 2018 History has shown us the danger of religious zealotry when used as a justification for genocide. Guest Columnist/cleveland.com, cleveland.com, "Science, not religion, should determine public policy on abortion: Joel Berry (Opinion)," 29 Apr. 2018 Congress simply could not have intended to allow employers to rely on these discriminatory wages as a justification for continuing to perpetuate wage differentials. Dan Eaton, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Ninth Circuit: Employers can’t use salary history to set salary," 30 Apr. 2018 Unsurprisingly, the Trump administration has failed to point to any tangible justification for its ban. Ted Lieu, Fortune, "I’m a Congressman and a Veteran. Trump’s Transgender Military Ban Isn’t Just Unconstitutional—It’s Stupid.," 29 Mar. 2018 The administration has plenty of justification taking on China, trade experts say, because China is playing by its own rules in trade. Laurent Belsie, The Christian Science Monitor, "Yes, a trade war could hurt everyone. But we're not there yet.," 22 Mar. 2018 That immediately triggered fierce bickering among Republicans and Democrats about whether that was a valid justification, with the committees' GOP leaders raising the possibility of holding Strzok in contempt of Congress. Mike Memoli /, NBC News, "Facing intense GOP criticism, FBI's Strzok says personal views didn't impact decisions," 12 July 2018

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

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First Known Use of justification

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for justification

see justify

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Phrases Related to justification

in justification of

with some justification

Statistics for justification

Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for justification

The first known use of justification was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for justification



English Language Learners Definition of justification

: an acceptable reason for doing something : something that justifies an action


jus·ti·fi·ca·tion | \ˌjəs-tə-fə-ˈkā-shən \

Kids Definition of justification

1 : the act or an instance of proving to be just, right, or reasonable

2 : sufficient reason to show that an action is correct or acceptable


jus·ti·fi·ca·tion | \ˌjəs-tə-fə-ˈkā-shən \

Legal Definition of justification 

1 : the act or an instance of justifying

2 : something that justifies specifically : a legally sufficient reason or cause (as self-defense) for an act that would otherwise be criminal or tortious

3 : the affirmative defense of having a legally sufficient justification — compare excuse

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