Trending: exculpate

Lookups spiked 23,000% on July 24, 2019

Why are people looking up exculpate?

Exculpate was among our top lookups on July 24th, 2019, after the word came up during Robert Mueller’s testimony before members of the House of Representatives.

Under questioning from Rep. Nadler, Robert Mueller acknowledged that his 448-page report didn't exonerate President Trump of a crime, as Mr. Trump has maintained.

“Did you actually totally exonerate the president?” Mr. Nadler asked.

“No,” Mr. Mueller said in response. He then continued that the findings did not "exculpate" Mr. Trump.
– Byron Tau, The Wall Street Journal (, 24 Jul. 2019

What does exculpate mean?

We define exculpate as “to clear from alleged fault or guilt.”

Where does exculpate come from?

The word may be traced to the Latin culpa (“blame”), a root it shares with numerous other words in English, including culpable ("meriting condemnation or blame") and culpatory (“accusing”). Our earliest record for exculpate comes from Thomas Blount’s 1656 dictionary Glossographia; the word does appear in use outside of reference books by the beginning of the 1660s.

…yet to exculpate and excuse themselves, they are not witnesses without exception, save in certain Cases wherein the Law allows them a toleration by way of Juramental purgation.
— John Godolphin, Synegoros thalassios, 1661

Trend Watch is a data-driven report on words people are looking up at much higher search rates than normal. While most trends can be traced back to the news or popular culture, our focus is on the lookup data rather than the events themselves.

Challenging Standardized Test Words, Vol. 2

  • a pencil broken in half on top of a test answer sheet
  • The business’s new computer system proved not to be a panacea.
True or False

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

Play Blossom: Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Pick the best words!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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