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

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

Time Fresh off his presidential pardon last summer, Joe Arpaio says he was punked by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, who used flattery and the promise of a large audience to lure the former Maricopa County sheriff to a fake interview. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, azcentral, "Joe Arpaio says he was punked by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen in 'fake' interview," 12 July 2018 Among the recommendations the players had for the president were to issue a blanket pardon for people in Johnson’s situation and order the release of any drug offender older than age 60 with a non-recent conviction. Rob Tornoe,, "Malcolm Jenkins, Torrey Smith respond to Trump's pardon request," 21 June 2018 In reality, a presidential self-pardon is a constitutional gray area, the kind of weak spot in the document that Trump excels at exploiting. Benjamin Hart, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump Says He Has the Right to Pardon Himself," 4 June 2018 Giuliani noted that the political ramifications of a self-pardon could be severe. Anchorage Daily News, "Giuliani: Trump can probably pardon himself, but has no plan to," 3 June 2018 The president's ad hoc use of the pardon power is concerning enough. CBS News, "Who gets a Trump pardon?," 1 June 2018 Trump also floated the possibility of issuing a pardon to Martha Stewart, in addition to Rod Blagojevich. Clare Foran, CNN, "Rod Blagojevich's wife appeals to President Trump to help her husband," 31 May 2018 People took to Twitter to call on then-President Barack Obama to issue a pardon, using the hashtag #freebernardnoble. The Marshall Project,, "7 years behind bars for 2 joints -- and now he's free," 12 Apr. 2018 Dinesh D’Souza—area man who openly mocked the Parkland student activists, among other things—is getting a presidential pardon. Yohana Desta, HWD, "This Flirty Queer Eye Music Video Premiered at the Perfect Time," 1 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Trump hasn’t tried to pardon himself out of the Russia investigation yet. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Rudy Giuliani says the Russia investigation could get “cleaned up” with pardons hours after Paul Manafort was jailed," 15 June 2018 Whether a president is allowed to pardon himself is an open legal question. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "United States v. Trump," 6 June 2018 Yes, President Trump pardoned conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza this week, freeing him from the oppression of … serving five years probation after illegally using straw donors to support a Republican candidate for Senate in 2012. Graeme Mcmillan, WIRED, "While You Were Offline: In 2018, Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction," 3 June 2018 In 2017, Trump pardoned Arpaio, who had been convicted of criminal contempt of court in connection with a federal civil-rights case. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, azcentral, "Kelli Ward: Donald Trump told me Joe Arpaio 'shouldn't get in' the U.S. Senate race," 1 June 2018 His sentence was commuted to time served in 1921 by President Harding and he was released from jail, but he was never pardoned. Time Staff, Time, "President Trump Is Looking for Suggestions for Pardons. So We Asked 7 Historians for Their Thoughts," 21 June 2018 Kardashian West was the first person to call Johnson with the good news that she had been pardoned and could go home. Sarah Spellings, The Cut, "Kim Kardashian Meets Alice Johnson for the First Time in Emotional Interview," 14 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.

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

16 Oct 2018

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

: 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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


a generally accepted meaning of a word

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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!