non-apol·​o·​gy ˌnän-ə-ˈpä-lə-jē How to pronounce non-apology (audio)
variants or less commonly nonapology
plural non-apologies also nonapologies
: a disingenuous or insufficient apology : a statement that is offered as an apology but that fails to express true regret or to take responsibility for having done or said something wrong
The classic non-apology goes something like this: "I'm sorry if you were upset."Libby Watson
[Alex Jones] emitted a meager note of contrition, a non-apology to outdo non-apologies, constructed in the "mistakes were made" patois of our times: "I unintentionally took part in things that did hurt these people's feelings and I'm sorry for that."Pamela Paul
A different example of the same phenomenon is the classic bureaucrat's nonapology in response to the outraged protestations of some mobilized constituency or interest group: "We regret that our actions in this matter have caused offense."R. Jay Wallace
also : a refusal to apologize
In September, his new justice minister, Brad Johns, also publicly expressed his disappointment with the RCMP for its refusal to apologize for its use of police street checks, which are now banned in Nova Scotia. He said the force's non-apology will be one of the subjects "we're going to have to have a discussion about" … Stephen Kimber

Examples of non-apology in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Something occurs to me: A book on apologies — apologies in history (and non-apologies); the moral ins and outs — is a good idea. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 6 July 2023 Tommy Lee is issuing a non-apology of sorts after reposting a 2017 transphobic clip from the news network OAN. Lester Fabian Brathwaite,, 19 Apr. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'non-apology.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1967, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of non-apology was in 1967

Dictionary Entries Near non-apology

Cite this Entry

“Non-apology.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jul. 2024.

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