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

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Other Words from justify

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

Synonyms for justify

Synonyms

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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 Some students are able to land jobs after graduation with salaries that justify the monthly student loan payments, but others are not able to do so, rendering their student loans a particularly heavy burden. David Klein, Quartz, "The US doesn’t have a student debt problem. It has a college tuition crisis," 12 Sep. 2019 Foster children face many challenges that justify extra assistance. Richae Robinson, The Mercury News, "Opinion: California foster youth need support well into their 20s," 8 Sep. 2019 There's a number of reasons why Whitmer and the MDHHS see e-cigarette use as an emergency that would justify this move. Emma Keith, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan's ban on flavored vaping products: What to know," 4 Sep. 2019 These story lines rarely intersect with one another or with the show’s themes of anti-imperialism and tolerance in a way that justifies the collage of references. Judy Berman, Time, "Carnival Row and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Vie to Be the Next Game of Thrones—But Neither One Comes Close," 26 Aug. 2019 Four of five San Francisco Superior Court judges who authorized police searches on a freelance journalist have since quashed the warrants and unsealed the probable cause statements that justified the actions. Evan Sernoffsky, SFChronicle.com, "Adachi leak: What each judge knew before authorizing police searches of SF journalist," 13 Aug. 2019 Does all that justify a price that’s somewhere between $950 and $1,200 in a world where the OnePlus 7 Pro costs $700? Dieter Bohn, The Verge, "Samsung Galaxy Note 10 announced: two sizes, new S Pen, and DeX on your laptop," 7 Aug. 2019 There are no reasons or excuses that will ever justify killing innocent people. oregonlive.com, "Donald Trump’s ‘racism’ partly responsible for El Paso massacre, Beto O’Rourke says; Trump calls mass shooting ‘cowardice’," 4 Aug. 2019 There are no reasons or excuses that will ever justify killing innocent people. Fox News, "El Paso shooting leaves 20 dead, 26 injured; investigators probing potential 'nexus to hate crime'," 3 Aug. 2019

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

27 Oct 2019

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
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)

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More from Merriam-Webster on justify

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for justify

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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