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

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

Like most people, Genevieve can't justify spending a lot of money on decorations that will be on display for a month or so at most, so finding great deals on decorations is key. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "Genevieve Gorder Shares How To Decorate For The Holidays Without Breaking The Bank," 13 Nov. 2018 Patrick Kennedy, vice president, strategic growth for V3 Companies, which is working with Jupiter Realty and handles civil engineering, contracting, environmental, planning and surveying services, said floodwater concerns are not justified. Chuck Fieldman, chicagotribune.com, "Residents crowd Oak Brook meeting to oppose 22-story luxury condo development," 12 July 2018 Escotto's lawyer said the mother's actions were legal and justified because the secret recording was captured in a public space with other children present. Jason Silverstein, CBS News, "Mom secretly recorded son's kindergarten teacher calling him a "loser"," 6 July 2018 Buy Photo The family of a Philadelphia woman who was killed by police in South Jersey last month is raising new questions about whether the use of force was justified, based on witnesses’ accounts of the shooting. Melanie Burney, Philly.com, "Family of woman fatally shot by Deptford police hold protest, demand answers," 1 July 2018 Analysis of how well a programme will reach, draw and retain customers in specific clusters lets Netflix calculate what sort of acquisition costs can be justified for it. The Economist, "Netflix is moving television beyond time-slots and national markets," 28 June 2018 Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson also said that the shooting was justified. Breanna Edwards, The Root, "Jury Finds that Chicago Cop Acted ‘Reasonably’ in 2015 Fatal Shooting of Quintonio LeGrier," 28 June 2018 Instead, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the policy is justified on national-security grounds. Sara Reardon, Scientific American, "Top U.S. Court Upholds Trump Travel Ban: Student Visas Already in Decline," 26 June 2018 One group quickly assumed the resentful voice of Victor; the other, the self-justifying voice of Walter. Paula Marantz Cohen, WSJ, "Arthur Miller’s ‘Everyman’ Is an Antidote to Identity Politics," 22 Feb. 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

17 Mar 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)
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

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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