justify

verb
jus·​ti·​fy | \ ˈjə-stə-ˌfī How to pronounce justify (audio) \
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from justify

justifier \ ˈjə-​stə-​ˌfī(-​ə)r How to pronounce justify (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for justify

Synonyms

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 President Donald Trump has appeared to justify the violent occupation of the U.S. Capitol by his supporters. BostonGlobe.com, "Trump officials resign after Capitol mayhem," 7 Jan. 2021 The issue now is whether Ohio State can justify being given that spot by giving Clemson a game. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Ohio State under pressure to prove it belongs in Playoff semifinal," 31 Dec. 2020 Di Maria hopes to justify her attribution by presenting a 60-page paper on the artwork once Italy lifts lockdown restrictions associated with Covid-19. Isis Davis-marks, Smithsonian Magazine, "Art Historian Claims a Newly Discovered Drawing Is the Work of Leonardo da Vinci," 23 Nov. 2020 For sake of optics—and to ensure the health and safety of athletes, Warren insisted—the league needed a way to justify its about face. Laine Higgins, WSJ, "Big Ten Football Returns—as Covid-19 Surges in the Midwest," 23 Oct. 2020 The political press used to be able to halfway justify its neglect of the environment by noting that voters didn’t prioritize it very highly. Gilad Edelman, Wired, "There Are No Excuses Left for Leaving Climate Change Out of the Debates," 24 Sep. 2020 Apple attempts to justify these fees by arguing that the App Store is no different from a mall, where companies seeking to offer their products must pay rent to the owner of the mall (in this case, Apple). Kate Cox, Ars Technica, "ProtonMail founder: Apple uses monopoly to “hold all of us hostage”," 3 Aug. 2020 Far less effort was put into the interior, which is standard Toyota fare with additional wood and leather to help justify the Classic's big price. Scott Oldham, Car and Driver, "12 Cool Cars Finally Legal for U.S. Import in 2021," 21 Dec. 2020 Three years later, all this information would be used to help justify Raslan’s arrest. Nate Berg, The New Republic, "The Man Who Wants to Take Down Bashar Al Assad," 14 Dec. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about justify

Time Traveler for justify

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for justify

Last Updated

26 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Justify.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/justify. Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for justify

justify

verb
How to pronounce justify (audio)

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

justify

verb
jus·​ti·​fy | \ ˈjəs-tə-ˌfī How to pronounce justify (audio) \
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 How to pronounce justify (audio) \
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)

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on justify

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!