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 justify (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 That request stems in large part from the conclusion of an expert panel convened by the FDA last November, which almost unanimously decided that the evidence presented by the drug’s developers did not justify approval. Alice Park, Time, 7 June 2021 One was canceled this year when its developer, Annova, decided that the faltering export market wouldn’t justify the investment. Washington Post, 3 June 2021 Certainly, economic theory as well as considerable historical experience justify concerns. Milton Ezrati, Forbes, 2 June 2021 No one, looking back, would say that the need to confront Germany and Japan did not justify the immense redeployment of resources. Greg Jackson, Harper's Magazine, 25 May 2021 Lower courts have rejected this argument, finding that Tinker did not justify the school's actions. Nicholas Rowan, Washington Examiner, 26 Apr. 2021 Now, American Medical Response says its profit margins cannot justify remaining there. New York Times, 25 Apr. 2021 Peters said at the time the investigation contained factual errors and the findings did not justify his firing. Topher Sanders, ProPublica, 15 Apr. 2021 Like, in terms of race, the objective is to set up these hierarchies that justify a treatment of one group of people by other groups of people. Los Angeles Times, 26 May 2021

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

19 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Justify.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/justify. Accessed 19 Jun. 2021.

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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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