vin·​di·​cate ˈvin-də-ˌkāt How to pronounce vindicate (audio)
vindicated; vindicating

transitive verb

: to free from allegation or blame
: to provide justification or defense for : justify
: to protect from attack or encroachment : defend
: avenge
: to maintain a right to
obsolete : to set free : deliver

Did you know?

It’s hard not to marvel at the rich history of vindicate. Vindicate, which has been used in English since at least the mid-16th century, comes from a form of the Latin verb vindicare, meaning “to set free, avenge, or lay claim to.” Vindicare, in turn, comes from vindex, a noun meaning “claimant” or “avenger.” Truly, vindex has proven to be an incredible hulk of a word progenitor over the centuries. Other descendants of this “avenger” assembled in English include avenge itself, revenge, vengeance, vendetta, and vindictive.

Choose the Right Synonym for vindicate

exculpate, absolve, exonerate, acquit, vindicate mean to free from a charge.

exculpate implies a clearing from blame or fault often in a matter of small importance.

exculpating himself from the charge of overenthusiasm

absolve implies a release either from an obligation that binds the conscience or from the consequences of disobeying the law or committing a sin.

cannot be absolved of blame

exonerate implies a complete clearance from an accusation or charge and from any attendant suspicion of blame or guilt.

exonerated by the investigation

acquit implies a formal decision in one's favor with respect to a definite charge.

voted to acquit the defendant

vindicate may refer to things as well as persons that have been subjected to critical attack or imputation of guilt, weakness, or folly, and implies a clearing effected by proving the unfairness of such criticism or blame.

her judgment was vindicated

maintain, assert, defend, vindicate, justify mean to uphold as true, right, just, or reasonable.

maintain stresses firmness of conviction.

steadfastly maintained his innocence

assert suggests determination to make others accept one's claim.

asserted her rights

defend implies maintaining in the face of attack or criticism.

defended his voting record

vindicate implies successfully defending.

his success vindicated our faith in him

justify implies showing to be true, just, or valid by appeal to a standard or to precedent.

the action was used to justify military intervention

Examples of vindicate in a Sentence

She will be completely vindicated by the evidence. These discoveries vindicate their theory. Their approach to the problem has been vindicated by the positive results. He felt vindicated when the truth became known.
Recent Examples on the Web For example, Abraham Lincoln was willing to send several hundred thousand men to their deaths to vindicate the principles of a free government, free election and Union. Chris Klimek, Smithsonian Magazine, 21 Mar. 2024 My sister would eventually be vindicated when the existence of wild wallabies in the UK was confirmed and even captured on film. Chris Wheatley, Longreads, 18 Jan. 2024 See all Example Sentences for vindicate 

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

Word History


Latin vindicatus, past participle of vindicare to lay claim to, avenge, from vindic-, vindex claimant, avenger

First Known Use

circa 1571, in the meaning defined at sense 4

Time Traveler
The first known use of vindicate was circa 1571


Dictionary Entries Near vindicate

Cite this Entry

“Vindicate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


vin·​di·​cate ˈvin-də-ˌkāt How to pronounce vindicate (audio)
vindicated; vindicating
: to free from blame or guilt
evidence that will vindicate me
: confirm sense 4
later discoveries vindicated the claim
vindicator noun

More from Merriam-Webster on vindicate

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