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

Everyone wants border security and rule of law, but neither justifies inhumane treatment of children. Houston Chronicle, "Letters to the Editor," 30 June 2018 The mother, played by Adriana Barraza, drugs unsuspecting drug runners and human traffickers and drowns them in a nearby lake, justifying her actions as ridding the world of evil people. Alanna Bennett, Teen Vogue, "Camila Mendes Is Taking It All in Stride," 1 May 2019 Here's how the company justifies using its visitors' random photos as free marketing fodder: MY NAME AND LIKENESS. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "The Vessel, New York City's Newest Tourist Trap, Plans to Use Your Photos as Marketing Fodder," 19 Mar. 2019 Last week, Sessions cited Romans 13 in the Bible to justify the policy, saying God has ordained the laws of government for reasons of keeping order. Annie Linskey, BostonGlobe.com, "Falsehoods. Obfuscation. Spin. Nothing the White House tries quiets outcry over migrant kids," 19 June 2018 Google chose the latter, justifying it on the grounds that editing shadows back in is trivial compared to trying to edit detail into shadows. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "Google gives the Pixel camera superhuman night vision," 14 Nov. 2018 The risks are enormous and the benefits probably do not justify it. John Ismay, New York Times, "Why the Thailand Cave Rescue Was So Difficult: A Diver Explains," 10 July 2018 Couture has seemingly been trying hard to justify itself (and its exorbitant price tags) in the new world of streetwear and athleisure, showing off its tricks and trims and the inside of its ateliers. Rhonda Richford, The Hollywood Reporter, "Valentino's Magical Couture Week Closer Leaves Tracee Ellis Ross in Tears," 5 July 2018 Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said there was not enough evidence to determine if two Adams County deputies were legally justified in the November 2015 shooting of Council rancher Jack Yantis. Cynthia Sewell, idahostatesman, "Training, mental health, growth behind Idaho's spike in police shootings, says expert," 2 July 2018

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

26 May 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

Comments on justify

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