justify

verb
jus·​ti·​fy | \ ˈjə-stə-ˌfī \
justified; justifying

Definition of justify 

transitive verb

1a : to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable trying to justify his selfish behavior I shouldn't have to justify myself to them. justify the ways of God to man— John Milton
b(1) : to show to have had a sufficient legal reason
(2) : to qualify (oneself) as a surety (see surety sense 3) by taking oath to the ownership of sufficient property
2a : to judge, regard, or treat as righteous and worthy of salvation God justifies with his forgiveness and grace the man who comes to him— Will Herberg
b archaic : to administer justice to
c archaic : absolve
3a : to space (lines of text) so that the lines come out even at the margin
b : to make even by spacing lines of text justified margins

intransitive verb

1a : to show a sufficient lawful reason for an act done
b : to qualify as bail or surety the surety justified on the bail bond
2 : to justify lines of text

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Other Words from justify

justifier \ ˈjə-​stə-​ˌfī(-​ə)r \ noun

Synonyms for justify

Synonyms

excuse

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Choose the Right Synonym for justify

maintain, assert, defend, vindicate, justify mean to uphold as true, right, just, or reasonable. maintain stresses firmness of conviction. steadfastly maintained his innocence assert suggests determination to make others accept one's claim. asserted her rights defend implies maintaining in the face of attack or criticism. defended his voting record vindicate implies successfully defending. his success vindicated our faith in him justify implies showing to be true, just, or valid by appeal to a standard or to precedent. the action was used to justify military intervention

Examples of justify in a Sentence

He tried to justify his behavior by saying that he was being pressured unfairly by his boss. The fact that we are at war does not justify treating innocent people as criminals.

Recent Examples on the Web

That Aniston has to even justify her choices in the first place is frustrating. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Jennifer Aniston Says the Idea of Having Kids Is 'Frightening' to Her," 7 Dec. 2018 Bass comes through with absolute authority and a weight that justifies the buds’ chunky form. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless review: sonic standout," 30 Nov. 2018 Fed officials can justify another rate increase by pointing to strong economic data, including a 3.7% unemployment rate and steady consumer spending. Nick Timiraos, WSJ, "As Fed Begins Meeting, Trump Again Calls for No Rate Increase," 18 Dec. 2018 No, in American poetry, politics was the domain of the few and the fearless, poets like Adrienne Rich or Denise Levertov, whose outsize conscience justified such risky behavior. Constance Grady, Vox, "Victorian literature was full of lady detectives," 15 Dec. 2018 This week, the company said that roughly half of these unwanted experiences include these abusive ads, justifying the crackdown. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Google's Chrome 71 will block 'abusive' ads that trick you into clicking them," 6 Nov. 2018 Bayer faced lawsuits from 9,300 plaintiffs at the end of the October, up from 8,700 at the end of August, and is increasingly under pressure to justify the benefits of the $63 billion transaction that was completed in early June. Nina Trentmann, WSJ, "Asset Sales, Cost Cuts Pose Challenge for New Bayer CFO," 30 Nov. 2018 But there may just be enough new tech here to justify a bit of hype. Sean Hollister, The Verge, "5G is weeks away — and Tuesday marks its first real test," 30 Nov. 2018 Hell, maybe Microsoft thinks its first-party lineup is compelling enough to justify the $10 a month price tag, and won’t put much effort into building a larger library. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass subscription is coming to PCs, but in what form?," 25 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'justify.' 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 justify

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for justify

Middle English justifien, from Anglo-French or Late Latin; Anglo-French justifier, from Late Latin justificare, from Latin justus — see just entry 1

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Statistics for justify

Last Updated

6 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for justify

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

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More Definitions for justify

justify

verb

English Language Learners Definition of justify

: to provide or be a good reason for (something) : to prove or show (something) to be just, right, or reasonable

: to provide a good reason for the actions of (someone)

: to position (text) so that the edges form a straight line

justify

verb
jus·​ti·​fy | \ ˈjəs-tə-ˌfī \
justified; justifying

Kids Definition of justify

: to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable How can you justify your actions?

Other Words from justify

justifiable \ -​ə-​bəl \ adjective
justifiably \ -​blē \ adverb

justify

verb
jus·​ti·​fy | \ ˈjəs-tə-ˌfī \
justified; justifying

Legal Definition of justify 

transitive verb

1 : to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable does not justify a denial of bail
2 : to show to have had a legally sufficient reason or cause a defendant may not set up his own standard of conduct to justify or excuse himselfState v. Doss, 568 P.2d 1054 (1977)

intransitive verb

1 : to show a legally sufficient reason for an act
2 : to swear an oath as to the ownership of sufficient property they shall justify in an amount no less than $200Oregon Revised Statutes also : to qualify as a surety by swearing such an oath the defendants sought to justify as bail State v. Blaisdell, 253 A.2d 341 (1969)

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More from Merriam-Webster on justify

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with justify

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for justify

Spanish Central: Translation of justify

Nglish: Translation of justify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of justify for Arabic Speakers

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