justify

verb jus·ti·fy \ ˈjə-stə-ˌfī \

Definition of justify

justified; justifying
transitive verb
1 a :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 3) by taking oath to the ownership of sufficient property
2 a :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
3 a :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
1 a :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

justifier

play \ˈjə-stə-ˌfī(-ə)r\ noun

Examples of justify in a Sentence

  1. He tried to justify his behavior by saying that he was being pressured unfairly by his boss.

  2. The fact that we are at war does not justify treating innocent people as criminals.

Recent Examples of justify from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of justify

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

justify Synonyms

Synonym Discussion of 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


JUSTIFY Defined for English Language Learners

justify

verb

Definition of justify for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids

justify

verb jus·ti·fy \ ˈjəs-tə-ˌfī \

Definition of justify for Students

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

justifiable

\-ə-bəl\ adjective

justifiably

\-blē\ adverb

Law Dictionary

justify

verb jus·ti·fy \ ˈjəs-tə-ˌfī \

legal Definition of justify

justified; justifying
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 himself
  • State 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 $200
  • Oregon 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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