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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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 Irick also cited Owens’ alcohol and marijuana use as aspects of his character that justify keeping him in custody. Cristóbal Reyes, orlandosentinel.com, "Winter Park man accused of hitting cop with skateboard during Capitol riot won’t be released, judge rules," 2 Apr. 2021 That’s despite the fact that the cost of production is estimated to be only $6 a vial, and there have been almost no improvements or changes to the formulation that could justify a price increase since it was released in 1996. Zoe Witt, SELF, "5 Insulin Facts That Diabetic Activists Wish Everyone Knew," 31 Mar. 2021 The only thing that will justify such a substantial investment will be a complementary increase in performance—which Intel is promising, at least on paper. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Leaked: Big changes coming with Intel's next CPU, code-named Alder Lake," 22 Mar. 2021 Junior workers on Wall Street get paid buckets of money in return for working insane hours to build the spreadsheets and PowerPoints that can justify all the latest SPAC mergers and such. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Can a $100 billion football deal save the cable industry?," 19 Mar. 2021 This statistic is horrifying and tragic, and should not be used to justify how badly people have felt about being called a rude name or getting a tacky email from a publicist. Connie Wang, refinery29.com, "It Was A Banner Year For Asian Representation. Now What?," 18 Mar. 2021 But in February, after temporarily suspending building activities, President Biden rescinded the national emergency that his predecessor used to justify advancing construction. New York Times, "Trump’s Incomplete Border Wall Is in Pieces That Could Linger for Decades," 16 Mar. 2021 Politicians and governments have used the pandemic to justify an enormous expansion of state power. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Lessons of the Long Covid Year," 11 Mar. 2021 The Walsh administration used that review to justify withholding White’s internal affairs files. Andrew Ryan, BostonGlobe.com, "Walsh administration refuses to release internal affairs files of embattled police commissioner," 6 Mar. 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

8 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Justify.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/justify. Accessed 16 Apr. 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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Comments on justify

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