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par·​don ˈpär-dᵊn How to pronounce pardon (audio)
: the excusing of an offense without exacting a penalty
offered a pardon to the draft evader
: a release from the legal penalties of an offense
: an official warrant of remission of penalty
a royal pardon later released him from a death sentenceAmerican Guide Series: Maryland
: 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.


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pardoned; pardoning ˈpärd-niŋ How to pronounce pardon (audio)

transitive verb

: to absolve from the consequences of a fault or crime
: to allow (an offense) to pass without punishment : forgive
: to relieve of a penalty improperly assessed
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

Noun The governor granted him a pardon. He asked my pardon for taking so much of my time. Verb he eventually pardoned his sister after she apologized I'm willing to pardon a little sloppiness of dress in such a kind and loving person.
Recent Examples on the Web
According to the White House Historical Association, George Washington issued the first presidential pardon — which releases someone from punishment and restores all their civil liberties — in 1795. Virginia Chamlee, Peoplemag, 19 Feb. 2024 Novak's presidential pardon reportedly came in April 2023 ahead of a visit to Hungary by Pope Francis. Christian Edwards, CNN, 17 Feb. 2024 The pardon issue arose just as the Colosio case has taken on a new investigative twist. Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times, 31 Jan. 2024 The 70-year-old has exhausted all appeals and only a royal pardon could quash the conviction. Philip Heijmans,, 10 Jan. 2024 On Thursday, Orbán, in power since 2010, submitted a proposal for a constitutional amendment that would prohibit pardons for those convicted of crimes against children -- a rebuke of Novák's decision. Justin Spike The Associated Press,, 10 Feb. 2024 He was initially indicated on federal charges, but received a pardon from then-President Trump on Trump's final night in office. Aaron Katersky, ABC News, 23 Jan. 2024 But a pardon by his successor, President Gerald Ford, protected Nixon from indictment by the Watergate special prosecutor. Charlie Savage, New York Times, 5 Jan. 2024 And in late December, President Joe Biden pardoned thousands of people for marijuana crimes, his second round of pardons for federal charges. John Aguilar, Hartford Courant, 4 Jan. 2024
This is a deep cut: Abraham Lincoln pardoned Biden's ancestor. USA TODAY, 20 Feb. 2024 Here's what's open and closed on Presidents Day, from Costco to banks Abraham Lincoln pardoned Biden's great-great-granddad, documents show Is tax preparation software worth it? Megan Cerullo, CBS News, 19 Feb. 2024 In December, Biden issued a proclamation that would pardon those convicted of certain marijuana offenses, building on last year's historic pardon for federal offenders of simple marijuana possession. Virginia Chamlee, Peoplemag, 19 Feb. 2024 President Katalin Novak, Orban’s loyal but largely impotent ally, resigned last Saturday amid public furor over her decision in April 2023 to pardon the deputy director of a children’s home who had helped to cover up the abuse of underaged boys. Christian Edwards, CNN, 17 Feb. 2024 He was pardoned by Putin in 2013, but has since turned into a vocal critic of the regime. Yuliya Talmazan, NBC News, 16 Feb. 2024 The man was among more than 20 people pardoned by Ms. Novak last April before a visit to Hungary by Pope Francis. Andrew Higgins, New York Times, 10 Feb. 2024 Broidy was pardoned by Trump on his last day in office. Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post, 26 Jan. 2024 Novák had decided to pardon some two dozen people in April 2023, ahead of a visit by Pope Francis, among them the deputy director of a children's home who had helped the former director of the home hide his crimes. Benjamin Weinthal, Fox News, 10 Feb. 2024 See More

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

Word History



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

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


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

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

Dictionary Entries Near pardon

Cite this Entry

“Pardon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
par·​don ˈpärd-ᵊn How to pronounce pardon (audio)
: the excusing of an offense without a penalty


2 of 2 verb
pardoned; pardoning ˈpärd-niŋ How to pronounce pardon (audio)
: to free from penalty
: to forgive an offense

Legal Definition


: a release from the legal penalties of an offense
: an official warrant of remission of penalty as an act of clemency compare commute
: excuse or forgiveness for a fault or offense
pardon transitive verb

More from Merriam-Webster on pardon

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