par·​don | \ ˈpär-dᵊn How to pronounce pardon (audio) \

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 How to pronounce pardoning (audio) , 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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for pardon

Synonyms: Noun

absolution, amnesty, forgiveness, remission, remittal

Synonyms: Verb


Antonyms: Noun

penalty, punishment, retribution

Antonyms: Verb


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

These include efforts to offer potential witnesses pardons, efforts to pressure Attorney General Jeff Sessions into reversing his recusal, Trump’s involvement in his son Don Jr.’s misleading public statement about his Trump Tower Russian meeting. Andrew Prokop, Vox, "Trump’s attorney general nominee wrote a memo expressing deep suspicion of the Mueller probe," 20 Dec. 2018 Other recent measures included the freeing, either on bail or as a result of pardons, of political prisoners, including opposition party chief Kem Sokha, who was charged last year with treason on the basis of flimsy evidence. Sopheng Cheang, The Seattle Times, "Cambodian court gives suspended sentences to labor leaders," 11 Dec. 2018 He was released from prison and granted a royal pardon when Mr. Mahathir abandoned the then-ruling United Malays National Organization to lead a new coalition to victory and promised to pass the premiership to Mr. Anwar. Yantoultra Ngui, WSJ, "Malaysia’s Anwar a Step Closer to Power," 13 Oct. 2018 President Donald Trump, a political ally, granted him a pardon even before Arpaio could be sentenced. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, azcentral, "Joe Arpaio asks AG Jeff Sessions to investigate his 2016 defeat in sheriff's race," 21 June 2018 But instead of granting pardons, Muhammad bin Salman, the crown prince and power behind the throne, has added to the 2,000 or so political prisoners detained since September. The Economist, "The calculations of Muhammad bin Salman," 7 June 2018 Pence, however, declined to grant Cooper a pardon during his four years as Indiana's governor, despite a recommendation from the state's parole board. Tony Cook, Indianapolis Star, "Wrongfully convicted man Pence wouldn't pardon calls VP 'racist' for praising Arpaio," 2 May 2018 Peter King and Gregory Meeks, petitioned the Obama administration to grant a pardon to Johnson. Panama Jackson, The Root, "Trump Considers 'Full Pardon' of Boxer Jack Johnson After Sylvester Stallone Phone Call. Call Him Again, Sly," 22 Apr. 2018 The Constitution authorizes the president, as the nation’s sole chief executive, to do certain things – such as wield a veto, grant a pardon, appoint certain officials, and fire certain officials. Warren Richey, The Christian Science Monitor, "Legal question swirls around Trump: What constitutes obstruction of justice?," 16 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Which happens to be fitting (pardon the pun): In 2016, Moses released her debut title, The Art of Dressing Curves. Lauren Chan, Glamour, "8 Tips This Stylist Learned From 20 Years of Dressing Curves," 24 Mar. 2019 Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has proposed investigations and truth commissions to find out the fate of missing people, but also says some offenders should be pardoned. Fox News, "Victim families confront Mexico president-elect over amnesty," 14 Sep. 2018 There are lot of people out there like Ms. Johnson that should be pardoned that don't know a celebrity or NFL player. Rick Maese,, "Donald Trump asked NFL players for pardon suggestions. On Thursday, they responded.," 21 June 2018 That he has been pardoned by Trump to trigger the libs only makes the connection explicit. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "Grifters All the Way Down," 31 May 2018 Mahathir had pledged during the campaign to stand aside for Anwar once he was pardoned, but is now pushing back the potential timeline by up to two years. Haslinda Amin,, "Najib Must Face Malaysia Justice, Anwar Says," 18 May 2018 Finally, pardon a valedictory cynicism, but the most important truth about any political proposal is the part unsaid. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "Big Names Bake a Climate Pie in the Sky," 18 Jan. 2019 Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa pardoned Rajab in July 2015 over concerns about his health after the activist served some three months in prison. Jon Gambrell, Fox News, "UN panel calls on Bahrain to release activist Nabeel Rajab," 16 Aug. 2018 At the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore in June, a senior figure in Myanmar’s government suggested the country’s president would consider pardoning the two journalists if they were found guilty. James Hookway, WSJ, "Myanmar Court Sentences Reuters Reporters to Seven Years in Prison," 3 Sep. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about pardon

Statistics for pardon

Last Updated

17 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pardon

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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
formal : 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 How to pronounce pardon (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on pardon

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pardon

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pardon

Spanish Central: Translation of pardon

Nglish: Translation of pardon for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pardon for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about pardon

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).


marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!