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 But that doesn’t mean YLLs should be used to justify decisions that devalue older adults. Katherine Ellen Foley, Quartz, "How do you measure a Covid-19 fatality?," 24 June 2020 The erroneous assumption that individuals of African descent were more resilient to yellow fever was used to justify slavery. Dominique Soguel, The Christian Science Monitor, "'Immunity passports' could help against pandemic – or harm society," 24 June 2020 Then again, Gilbert hasn’t been shy about spending if the front office can justify it. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Cleveland Cavaliers adding another guard, Kevin Love’s future and Tristan Thompson’s return: Answering offseason’s biggest questions," 17 June 2020 Instead, some critics say, the fear was used to justify the executive order, which provided some liability protection for meatpacking plants. Kyle Bagenstose, USA TODAY, "As leaders warned of US meat shortages, overseas exports of pork and beef continued," 16 June 2020 An offer from the restaurant’s landlord to turn the slim parking lot into patio seating was welcome, but wouldn’t create enough volume -- or provide a long-enough warm weather season -- to justify reopening. oregonlive, "Revelry, Portland’s late-night fried chicken and cocktail destination, has closed permanently," 16 June 2020 Widdowson was told by his assistant kitchen manager about the order from state highway patrol and couldn’t morally justify working on that order having gone to the protests downtown. Jacob Myers, Cincinnati.com, "Condado Tacos in Columbus accepted an order from law enforcement - and employees walked out," 4 June 2020 This feels like an effort to justify police response at the protests and the subsequent curfews. cleveland, "Is identifying the Cleveland looters from May 30th the best use of police resources? Thoughts from the subscribers," 14 June 2020 Even at its best, the daughter game still needs the father to justify itself. Julie Muncy, Wired, "Last of Us Part II Is Great, but Can't Escape Its Father's Shadow," 12 June 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.

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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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Time Traveler for justify

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for justify

Last Updated

30 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Justify.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/justify. Accessed 8 Jul. 2020.

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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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