jus·​ti·​fi·​ca·​tion | \ ˌjə-stə-fə-ˈkā-shən How to pronounce justification (audio) \

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

As a result, hundreds continue to be removed from their parents — often, advocates say, for unclear reasons or with little apparent justification. Bill Lambrecht, ExpressNews.com, "Trump administration has separated toddlers from detained parents for up to 6 months, new report says," 12 July 2019 The Court sent the matter back to the Commerce Department, leaving the door open to its eventual inclusion if the administration could come up with a new justification. Natasha Bach, Fortune, "Can Trump Force the 2020 Citizenship Question by Executive Order?," 11 July 2019 The administration could come up with a new justification and re-litigate the issue, but that could take months. David Jackson, USA TODAY, "Trump to order citizenship question on census, despite Supreme Court," 8 July 2019 He was also accused of targeting and shooting civilians, including a young girl, with no conceivable military justification. David French, National Review, "Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher’s Acquittal Reminds Us to Never Rush to Judgment," 3 July 2019 Chinese officials have used these activities as justifications for sending perpetrators to education camps or prisons. Jane Golley, Harper's magazine, "Party Fouls," 24 June 2019 On Tuesday, however, her tone was significantly more conciliatory — offering no justification for the bill, but still declining to fully withdraw it. Shibani Mahtani, Washington Post, "Hong Kong leader offers ‘sincere apology’ after second massive march against extradition bill to China," 18 June 2019 This is a familiar justification, the same one used by the Obama administration in its cases against American journalists. New York Times, "Australia May Well Be the World’s Most Secretive Democracy," 5 June 2019 In both cases, national security was cited as justification. The Economist, "An attack on free speech in Nigeria," 14 June 2019

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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Statistics for justification

Last Updated

18 Jul 2019

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 How to pronounce justification (audio) \

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 How to pronounce justification (audio) \

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).


to complain fretfully

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