verb vin·di·cate \ ˈvin-də-ˌkāt \
|Updated on: 18 Aug 2018

Definition of vindicate

vindicated; vindicating
1 a : to free from allegation or blame
(2) : to provide justification or defense for : justify
c : to protect from attack or encroachment : defend
2 : avenge
3 : to maintain a right to
4 obsolete : to set free : deliver


play \ˈvin-di-ˌkā-tər\ noun

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Examples of vindicate in a Sentence

  1. She will be completely vindicated by the evidence.

  2. These discoveries vindicate their theory.

  3. Their approach to the problem has been vindicated by the positive results.

  4. He felt vindicated when the truth became known.

Recent Examples of vindicate from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vindicate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

It's not surprising that the two earliest senses of "vindicate," which has been used in English since at least the mid-16th century, are "to set free" (a sense that is now obsolete) and "to avenge." Vindicate derives from Latin vindicatus, the past participle of the verb vindicare, meaning "to set free, avenge, or lay claim to." "Vindicare," in turn, derives from "vindex," a noun meaning "claimant" or "avenger." Other descendants of "vindicare" in English include such vengeful words as "avenge" itself, "revenge," "vengeance," "vendetta," and "vindictive." Closer cousins of "vindicate" are "vindicable" ("capable of being vindicated") and the archaic word vindicative ("punitive").

Origin and Etymology of vindicate

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

VINDICATE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of vindicate for English Language Learners

  • : to show that (someone) should not be blamed for a crime, mistake, etc. : to show that (someone) is not guilty

  • : to show that (someone or something that has been criticized or doubted) is correct, true, or reasonable

VINDICATE Defined for Kids


verb vin·di·cate \ ˈvin-də-ˌkāt \

Definition of vindicate for Students

vindicated; vindicating
1 : to free from blame or guilt
  • The evidence will vindicate her.
2 : to show to be true or correct
  • Later discoveries vindicated their claim.

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