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

Yet Mohammed is, perhaps with some justification, sore at his American pal Donald for granting waivers that allow big buyers like India and China to keep buying lots of Hassan’s oil. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "OPEC Heads for an Awkward Meeting," 23 Nov. 2018 Facebook's justification for removing problematic accounts—using duplicate profiles, artificially boosting metrics, inflaming political tension to fatten ad revenue—is a tactful one. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Facebook's Fake News Problem Isn't Russian Anymore—It's Homegrown," 12 Oct. 2018 The justification for the change is a matter of debate. Brian Slodysko, The Courier-Journal, "Cleanup of Pence family's failed gas stations cost Indiana taxpayers $20M," 13 July 2018 The justification for the change is a matter of debate. Brian Slodysko, Houston Chronicle, "Pence family gas stations left costly environmental legacy," 13 July 2018 The justification for the change is a matter of debate. Brian Slodysko, chicagotribune.com, "Cleanup of Pence family gas stations cost Indiana more than $20 million," 13 July 2018 The ostensible justification was that Robinson and Nelson hadn’t ordered anything. David Meyer, Fortune, "Starbucks Is Closing Today For Its Company-Wide Unconscious Bias Training: Here's What You Need To Know," 29 May 2018 The president used the conflict with Ethiopia as a justification for indefinite service. Julia Steers, WSJ, "United Nations Lifts Sanctions on ‘Africa’s North Korea’," 14 Nov. 2018 Bannon has often cited minority unemployment as a justification for the policy in the past, most recently in a speech to a conference for black entrepreneurs in December. Russell Brandom, The Verge, "Steve Bannon is pushing anti-immigrant policies at an upcoming tech conference," 31 Oct. 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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Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

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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Comments on justification

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


a nest or breeding place

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