apol·​o·​gize ə-ˈpä-lə-ˌjīz How to pronounce apologize (audio)
apologized; apologizing

intransitive verb

: to express regret for something done or said : to make an apology
He apologized for his mistake.
She apologized to us for losing her temper.
apologizer noun

Did you know?

Does apologize always mean "to say 'I'm sorry'"?

The verb apologize is a surprisingly recent introduction to the English language when one stops to consider that we have likely been committing deeds which require an apology since time immemorial. Our earliest current record of use comes at the end of the 16th century, in the writing of Thomas Nash:

”….but as the Elephant and the Rinoceros neuer fight but about the best pastures, so will I winne from him his best Patrons, and driue him to confesse himselfe a Conundrum, who now thinks he hath learning inough to proue the saluation of Lucifer; Apologize it for him as many Chutes, Barnesses, or vile riggers, or Fregeuiles as there will.”

The earliest uses of apologize more often meant “to offer an excuse or defense” than “to acknowledge a fault.” The verb came into our language from the noun apology, which similarly had an initial meaning (beginning in the early 16th century) that did not necessarily acknowledge fault (“something said or written in defense or justification of what appears to others to be wrong or of what may be liable to disapprobation”).

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web While many still take issue with the city refusing to formally apologize to the Bruce family, the mayor’s personal apology drew big cheers Saturday. Colleen Shalby, Los Angeles Times, 18 Mar. 2023 GaaSyy was previously asked to apologize for his absence but did not. Tara Subramaniam, CNN, 15 Mar. 2023 In one instance, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has tried to apologize for dodging a question in a local news interview about whether Harris should continue to serve as Biden’s running mate. Chuck Todd, NBC News, 13 Mar. 2023 In June of 2021, Microsoft announced that the upcoming Starfield would not be available on PlayStation consoles (a move that led a Bethesda executive to publicly apologize to PlayStation fans). Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, 13 Mar. 2023 When that raised hackles, the right thing to do was apologize for overstepping — and thereafter bite your tongue. Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 12 Mar. 2023 Cate Blanchett will not apologize for repeating her outfits on the red carpet. Rosa Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 10 Mar. 2023 As if those cuts weren’t already ruthless enough, rather than publicly apologize or handle the matter privately, Musk responded to Thorleifsson. Scott Nover, Quartz, 7 Mar. 2023 Rivera said in an interview that the commission needs people who understand the issues, and Crawford should step down and apologize. Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News, 4 Mar. 2023 See More

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

Word History


earlier, "to speak in justification (of)," from apology + -ize

First Known Use

1596, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of apologize was in 1596

Dictionary Entries Near apologize

Cite this Entry

“Apologize.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apologize. Accessed 24 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


apol·​o·​gize ə-ˈpäl-ə-ˌjīz How to pronounce apologize (audio)
apologized; apologizing
: to make an apology
apologizer noun
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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