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

And none of this necessarily justifies the original decision to go to war. Hal Brands, National Review, "Lessons from the Iraq War," 20 June 2019 The school's headmistress justifies her action by citing such religious transgressions as Yaakov owning a television set and his daughter wearing a slit skirt. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Unorthodox': Film Review," 14 June 2019 Replays might have justified the decision but far worse breaches of the rule are rarely called. Ravi Ubha, CNN, "Italy ends nearly 30-year drought at World Cup, joins England in round of 16," 14 June 2019 How would tariffs on Mexico be justified as an emergency? Daniel Flatley, Fortune, "What Trump Gains by Seeing ‘Emergencies’ All Around Him," 5 June 2019 After three seasons, this full-length movie-like finale feels justified for a show that is arguably ending too soon. Allie Gemmill, Teen Vogue, "The "Shadowhunters" Final Episode Will Be More Than 2 Hours Long," 28 Mar. 2019 The development also justifies the prices in certain cases. Nick Remsen, Vogue, "Overhauling Heritage (With an Edge of Clever Hype): A Conversation with Rimowa CEO Alexandre Arnault," 27 Feb. 2019 During the Cold War, each arm of the triad justified its existence by doing something better than the other two. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Does America Still Need the Nuclear Triad?," 23 Jan. 2019 But Harvey's beef with Sabrina is entirely justified. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina," 18 Dec. 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

23 Jun 2019

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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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