par·​don | \ˈpär-dᵊn \

Definition of pardon 

(Entry 1 of 2)

2 : the excusing of an offense without exacting a penalty offered a pardon to the draft evader

3a : a release from the legal penalties of an offense

b : an official warrant of remission of penalty a royal pardon later released him from a death sentenceAmerican Guide Series: Maryland

4 : excuse or forgiveness for a fault, offense, or discourtesy I beg your pardon She asked my pardon for taking up so much of my time.


pardoned; pardoning\ ˈpärd-​niŋ , ˈpär-​dᵊn-​iŋ \

Definition of pardon (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to absolve from the consequences of a fault or crime

b : to allow (an offense) to pass without punishment : forgive

c : to relieve of a penalty improperly assessed

2 : tolerate

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Synonyms & Antonyms for pardon

Synonyms: Noun

absolution, amnesty, forgiveness, remission, remittal

Synonyms: Verb


Antonyms: Noun

penalty, punishment, retribution

Antonyms: Verb


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Choose the Right Synonym for pardon


excuse, condone, pardon, forgive mean to exact neither punishment nor redress. excuse may refer to specific acts especially in social or conventional situations or the person responsible for these. excuse an interruption excused them for interrupting Often the term implies extenuating circumstances. injustice excuses strong responses condone implies that one overlooks without censure behavior (such as dishonesty or violence) that involves a serious breach of a moral, ethical, or legal code, and the term may refer to the behavior or to the agent responsible for it. a society that condones alcohol but not narcotics pardon implies that one remits a penalty due for an admitted or established offense. pardon a criminal forgive implies that one gives up all claim to requital and to resentment or vengeful feelings. could not forgive their rudeness

Examples of pardon in a Sentence


The governor granted him a pardon. He asked my pardon for taking so much of my time.


he eventually pardoned his sister for interfering in his marriage I'm willing to pardon a little sloppiness of dress in such a kind and loving person.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

President Trump has given full pardons to Dwight and Steven Hammond, the father and son cattle ranchers whose arrest in connection with an Oregon fire led armed supporters to occupy a wildlife refuge in 2016. Fox News, "Trump pardons ranchers whose arrests led to armed occupation of wildlife refuge," 10 July 2018 Instead, Trump gave them each a full pardon, restoring all of their civil rights. Gregory Korte, USA TODAY, "President Trump pardons Oregon cattle ranchers whose case inspired takeover of wildlife refuge," 10 July 2018 President Trump — en route to Brussels — has granted full pardons to two Oregon cattle ranchers. Benjamin Hart, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump Pardons Arsonists That Inspired 2016 Bundy Standoff," 10 July 2018 Although short of a full pardon, the decision will free Alice Marie Johnson, who has been locked up in federal prison in Alabama since 1996 on charges related to cocaine distribution and money laundering. Peter Baker,, "Trump offers clemency to imprisoned woman after push by Kardashian West," 7 June 2018 The news came hours after Trump announced a full pardon for conservative political pundit Dinesh D’Souza via the president’s Twitter account. John Patrick Pullen, Fortune, "Trump’s Proposed Stewart and Blagojevich Pardons Aren’t About The Apprentice. And They Aren’t Random, Either," 31 May 2018 The Keeping Up with the Kardashians star has been helping campaign for her presidential pardon. Michele Corriston,, "Kim Kardashian Is Meeting with Jared Kushner at the White House — Will Donald Trump Be There?," 30 May 2018 Assuming a prosecutorial role, Jefferson elicited damaging testimony against Burr on the promise of pardons. WSJ, "Five Best: Joyce Lee Malcolm," 28 June 2018 But there’s little such disagreement on the question of pardons. Steve Peoples,, "Poll finds Americans oppose presidential self-pardons," 22 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The turkeys pardoned by the President go on to do some pretty cool things. Taylor Murphy, Good Housekeeping, "19 Fascinating Things You Never Knew About Thanksgiving," 14 Aug. 2018 After Mr Sall pardoned him in 2016, Mr Wade immediately flew to Qatar. The Economist, "Senegal’s democracy is being tested by its president," 28 June 2018 King – who is so controversial because of his 1967 manslaughter conviction (he was later pardoned) that he was barred from speaking at the 2016 Republican National Convention – joined the president and griped about the media. Philip Rucker And Robert Costa,, "'Tired of the wait game': White House stabilizers gone, Trump calling his own shots," 1 Apr. 2018 Legal scholars differ on the issue of whether the president can pardon himself – and even some Republicans questioned the reading of the law by Trump's legal team. Anchorage Daily News, "Despite Trump’s public bravado, his legal team readies for a showdown with Mueller," 5 June 2018 But as Vanity Fair points out, just last week, President Trump pardoned legendary boxer Jack Johnson at the urging Sylvester Stallone, Lennox Lewis, and Deontay Wilder. Madeleine Aggeler, The Cut, "Mrs. Kardashian West Goes to Washington," 30 May 2018 Last year, Trump pardoned controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio after he was found guilty on criminal charges for reusing the stop imprisoning undocumented immigrants. Leada Gore,, "Trump plans to pardon Scooter Libby," 13 Apr. 2018 Additionally, a five-year waiting period must occur before a person is eligible to be pardoned. Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Fox News, "How do presidential pardons work?," 10 July 2018 The appeals from celebrities come a few weeks after reality TV star Kim Kardashian West visited the White House to press her case to pardon a woman serving a life sentence for drug offenses. Mark Kennedy,, "From Reese Witherspoon to Willie Nelson, the list of celebrities upset by the US border policy just keeps growing," 19 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pardon.' 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 pardon


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for pardon


Middle English, from Anglo-French pardun, pardoun, from parduner


Middle English, from Anglo-French parduner, from Late Latin perdonare to grant freely, from Latin per- thoroughly + donare to give — more at parboil, donation

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Statistics for pardon

Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pardon

The first known use of pardon was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for pardon



English Language Learners Definition of pardon

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an act of officially saying that someone who was judged to be guilty of a crime will be allowed to go free and will not be punished

: forgiveness for something



English Language Learners Definition of pardon (Entry 2 of 2)

: to officially say that someone who is guilty of a crime will be allowed to go free and will not be punished

: to say that someone should not be blamed for thinking, doing, or saying something

: to officially say that a person, country, etc., does not have to pay (a debt)


par·​don | \ˈpär-dᵊn \

Kids Definition of pardon

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : forgiveness for wrong or rude behavior

2 : the act of freeing from legal punishment


pardoned; pardoning

Kids Definition of pardon (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to free from penalty for a fault or crime The prisoner was eventually pardoned.

2 : to allow (a wrong act) to pass without punishment : forgive



Legal Definition of pardon 

1 : a release from the legal penalties of an offense

2 : an official warrant of remission of penalty as an act of clemency — compare commute

3 : excuse or forgiveness for a fault or offense

Other Words from pardon

pardon transitive verb

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Comments on pardon

What made you want to look up pardon? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

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