Word of the Day : January 21, 2018

extenuate

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verb ik-STEN-yuh-wayt

Definition

1 : to lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or extent of by making partial excuses : mitigate

2 : to lessen the strength or effect of

Did You Know?

You have probably encountered the phrase "extenuating circumstances," which is one of the more common ways that this word turns up in modern times. Extenuate was borrowed into English in the late Middle Ages from Latin extenuatus, the past participle of the verb extenuare, which was itself formed by combining ex- and the verb tenuare, meaning "to make thin." In addition to the surviving senses, extenuate once meant "to make light of" and "to make thin or emaciated"; although those senses are now obsolete, the connection to tenuare can be traced somewhat more clearly through them. Extenuate is today mostly at home in technical and legal contexts, but it occasionally appears in general writing with what may be a developing meaning: "to prolong, worsen, or exaggerate." This meaning, which is likely due to a conflation with extend or accentuate (or both), is not yet fully established.


Examples

Ryan's tardiness to work that morning was extenuated by the fact that his first meeting of the day was cancelled.

"If I did any wrong, as I may have done much, I did it in mistaken love, and in my want of wisdom. I write the exact truth. It would avail me nothing to extenuate it now." — Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, 1850



Name That Synonym

Unscramble the letters to create a synonym of extenuate: LTPAAEIL.

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