excuse

1 of 2

verb

ex·​cuse ik-ˈskyüz How to pronounce excuse (audio)
 imperatively often  ˈskyüz
excused; excusing

transitive verb

1
a
: to make apology for
b
: to try to remove blame from
2
: to forgive entirely or disregard as of trivial import : regard as excusable
graciously excused his tardiness
3
a
: to grant exemption or release to
was excused from jury duty
b
: to allow to leave
excused the class
4
: to serve as excuse for : justify
nothing can excuse such neglect
excusable adjective
excusableness noun
excusably adverb
excuser noun

excuse

2 of 2

noun

ex·​cuse ik-ˈskyüs How to pronounce excuse (audio)
1
: the act of excusing
2
a
: something offered as justification or as grounds for being excused
b
excuses plural : an expression of regret for failure to do something
c
: a note of explanation of an absence
3
Choose the Right Synonym for excuse

Verb

excuse, condone, pardon, forgive mean to exact neither punishment nor redress.

excuse may refer to specific acts especially in social or conventional situations or the person responsible for these.

excuse an interruption
excused them for interrupting

Often the term implies extenuating circumstances.

injustice excuses strong responses

condone implies that one overlooks without censure behavior (such as dishonesty or violence) that involves a serious breach of a moral, ethical, or legal code, and the term may refer to the behavior or to the agent responsible for it.

a society that condones alcohol but not narcotics

pardon implies that one remits a penalty due for an admitted or established offense.

pardon a criminal

forgive implies that one gives up all claim to requital and to resentment or vengeful feelings.

could not forgive their rudeness

Noun

apology, apologia, excuse, plea, pretext, alibi mean matter offered in explanation or defense.

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

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

excuse implies an intent to avoid or remove blame or censure.

used illness as an excuse for missing the meeting

plea stresses argument or appeal for understanding or sympathy or mercy.

her usual plea that she was nearsighted

pretext suggests subterfuge and the offering of false reasons or motives in excuse or explanation.

used any pretext to get out of work

alibi implies a desire to shift blame or evade punishment and imputes mere plausibility to the explanation.

his alibi failed to stand scrutiny

Example Sentences

Verb His boss excused the mistake but told him to be more careful next time. Please excuse me for not calling sooner. I was excused from jury duty. The teacher excused the class from homework that day. Nothing can excuse that kind of rudeness. Her father's illness excused her absence. Noun What's your excuse for being so late? She had no valid excuse for not finishing her homework. He's always making excuses for himself. I made my excuses and left. His birthday gives us a good excuse for a party. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Readers may have already heard about the movie’s opening, in which Emily (Bridgerton’s Phoebe Dynevor) and Luke (Alden Ehrenreich) excuse themselves from a wedding reception to indulge in some one-on-one time. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 23 Jan. 2023 But everything changed when the Fire Nati — excuse me, Netflix — signed on to produce a live-action movie bringing back showrunners Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. Ash Parrish, The Verge, 10 Jan. 2023 When the marketing department scratched a highlighter yellow tilde over the N in NFL Thursday to commemorate the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month, the NFL— excuse me — the ÑFL accomplished its goal. Lorenzo Reyes, USA TODAY, 16 Sep. 2022 That’s not to excuse it, but $5 million divided 32 ways doesn’t constitute a Brinks truck for any of the other owners. Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times, 23 June 2022 DeSantis well understands that the best way to excuse his malfeasance is to accuse others of malfeasance of their own, evidence be damned. Abdul El-sayed, The New Republic, 15 Dec. 2022 The new rules mean that in two years, a whole range of electronic devices — from phones to tablets and headphones — will finally use the same juice-dongles (excuse the technical term). Jeff Yang, CNN, 6 Dec. 2022 After the defense objected, the judge declined to excuse the alternate juror. Elizabeth Wagmeister, Variety, 12 Dec. 2022 Hollywood and its awarding bodies continuously forgive and excuse the alleged abusive behaviour of powerful men. Kathleen Newman-bremang, refinery29.com, 2 Dec. 2022
Noun
And that makes for a great excuse to enjoy a good buckwheat pancake! Leah Zerbe, Good Housekeeping, 19 Jan. 2023 Ladies’ poker night is a great excuse to catch up while learning the game in a low-stakes environment. Rachel Silva, ELLE Decor, 11 Jan. 2023 At which point, your protests to stay could be met with gracious compliance — or at least a more convincing excuse than checking their stocks on the internet. Jacobina Martin, Washington Post, 31 Dec. 2022 Good food served as a good excuse for movers and shakers to convene in an atmosphere where nobody’s selling anything. Michael Silverman, BostonGlobe.com, 22 Dec. 2022 The holidays already give you a valid excuse to spoil them a little more than usual, so now's the time to stock up on toys, chewers, treats, accessories, and more. Staff Author, Peoplemag, 20 Dec. 2022 Even a burgeoning space race with China seems like a convenient excuse, at least as far as the lunar surface goes. Nadia Drake, Scientific American, 16 Nov. 2022 Food can be seen as a reward and a diversion, and there’s always a good excuse for eating poorly and not exercising — work, family obligations, medical issues, stress, other priorities. Men's Health, 10 Nov. 2022 The sequel trilogy, of course, for a lot of fans, merely turned into an excuse for Disney and Lucasfilm to milk the franchise for more, so your mileage may vary. Ruth Johnson, EW.com, 5 Jan. 2023 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French escuser, excuser, from Latin excusare, from ex- + causa cause, explanation

First Known Use

Verb

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of excuse was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near excuse

Cite this Entry

“Excuse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/excuse. Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

excuse

1 of 2 verb
ex·​cuse ik-ˈskyüz How to pronounce excuse (audio)
excused; excusing
1
: to make apology for
excused myself for being late
2
: to overlook or dismiss as of little importance
excuse a mistake
3
a
: to release from doing something
excused the class from homework
b
: to allow to leave
excused the sick student from class
4
: to be an acceptable reason for : justify
nothing excuses bad manners
excusable adjective
excusably adverb
excuser noun

excuse

2 of 2 noun
ex·​cuse ik-ˈskyüs How to pronounce excuse (audio)
1
: the act of excusing
2
a
: something offered as a reason for being excused
b
: a note that explains an absence
3
: something that excuses or is a reason for excusing

Legal Definition

excuse

1 of 2 verb
ex·​cuse ik-ˈskyüz How to pronounce excuse (audio)
excused; excusing

transitive verb

1
: to grant exemption or release to
excused the prospective juror
excused the witness after an hour of testimony
2

intransitive verb

: to serve as an excuse or justification
exigent circumstances may excuseJ. J. White and R. S. Summers

excuse

2 of 2 noun
ex·​cuse ik-ˈskyüs How to pronounce excuse (audio)
1
2
a
: a circumstance that allows for release under the law from an obligation, duty, or contractual liability compare act of god, force majeure, fortuitous event, impossibility of performance
b
: a circumstance (as a physical threat) that grants immunity for otherwise tortious or criminal conduct compare justification, privilege

More from Merriam-Webster on excuse

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