excuse 1 of 2

as in justification
an explanation that frees one from fault or blame "a really important business call" is no excuse for not paying proper attention to one's driving

Synonyms & Similar Words



2 of 2


Synonym Chooser

How does the noun excuse contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of excuse are alibi, apologia, apology, plea, and pretext. While all these words mean "matter offered in explanation or defense," excuse implies an intent to avoid or remove blame or censure.

used illness as an excuse for missing the meeting

When could alibi be used to replace excuse?

The meanings of alibi and excuse largely overlap; however, alibi implies a desire to shift blame or evade punishment and imputes mere plausibility to the explanation.

his alibi failed to stand scrutiny

When might apologia be a better fit than excuse?

While the synonyms apologia and excuse are close in meaning, apologia implies not admission of guilt or regret but a desire to make clear the grounds for some course, belief, or position.

his speech was an apologia for his foreign policy

When can apology be used instead of excuse?

Although the words apology and excuse have much in common, apology usually applies to an expression of regret for a mistake or wrong with implied admission of guilt or fault and with or without reference to mitigating or extenuating circumstances.

said by way of apology that he would have met them if he could

When would plea be a good substitute for excuse?

While in some cases nearly identical to excuse, plea stresses argument or appeal for understanding or sympathy or mercy.

her usual plea that she was nearsighted

Where would pretext be a reasonable alternative to excuse?

The words pretext and excuse are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, pretext suggests subterfuge and the offering of false reasons or motives in excuse or explanation.

used any pretext to get out of work

Thesaurus Entries Near excuse

Cite this Entry

“Excuse.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/excuse. Accessed 22 Jun. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on excuse

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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