justify

verb
jus·​ti·​fy | \ ˈjə-stə-ˌfī How to pronounce justify (audio) \
justified; justifying

Definition of justify

transitive verb

1a : to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable trying to justify his selfish behavior I shouldn't have to justify myself to them. justify the ways of God to man— John Milton
b(1) : to show to have had a sufficient legal reason
(2) : to qualify (oneself) as a surety (see surety sense 3) by taking oath to the ownership of sufficient property
2a : to judge, regard, or treat as righteous and worthy of salvation God justifies with his forgiveness and grace the man who comes to him— Will Herberg
b archaic : to administer justice to
c archaic : absolve
3a : to space (lines of text) so that the lines come out even at the margin
b : to make even by spacing lines of text justified margins

intransitive verb

1a : to show a sufficient lawful reason for an act done
b : to qualify as bail or surety the surety justified on the bail bond
2 : to justify lines of text

Other Words from justify

justifier \ ˈjə-​stə-​ˌfī(-​ə)r How to pronounce justify (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for justify

Synonyms

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for justify

maintain, assert, defend, vindicate, justify mean to uphold as true, right, just, or reasonable. maintain stresses firmness of conviction. steadfastly maintained his innocence assert suggests determination to make others accept one's claim. asserted her rights defend implies maintaining in the face of attack or criticism. defended his voting record vindicate implies successfully defending. his success vindicated our faith in him justify implies showing to be true, just, or valid by appeal to a standard or to precedent. the action was used to justify military intervention

Examples of justify in a Sentence

He tried to justify his behavior by saying that he was being pressured unfairly by his boss. The fact that we are at war does not justify treating innocent people as criminals.
Recent Examples on the Web That research looked at a shifting of the fossil fuel industry’s climate strategy, from simply denying the existence of climate change, to introducing delaying tactics intended to justify climate inaction. David Vetter, Forbes, 17 June 2022 That's what these committees are considering this week is, are there risks low enough to justify the benefit? Taylor Wilson, USA TODAY, 17 June 2022 And is the result enough to justify all the mayhem and murder that happens in those 12 hours? Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, 16 June 2022 Perhaps even more pressing in this area of romance fiction is the problematic issue of #OwnVoices and the pressure on authors to be publicly out to somehow justify their storytelling. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, 16 June 2022 Although people-pleasers may confuse or justify their behavior as altruism, experts emphasize that there is a difference. Allyson Chiu, Washington Post, 15 June 2022 Do Americans bolster Israeli viewpoints, built on one lie after another, and perpetuate and justify continued human rights violations? Doris Bittar, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 June 2022 Judges have regularly cited that ruling to justify bond hearings after six months. Los Angeles Times, 13 June 2022 Judges have regularly cited that ruling to justify bond hearings after six months. David G. Savage, Anchorage Daily News, 13 June 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of justify

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for justify

Middle English justifien, from Anglo-French or Late Latin; Anglo-French justifier, from Late Latin justificare, from Latin justus — see just entry 1

Learn More About justify

Time Traveler for justify

Time Traveler

The first known use of justify was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near justify

justified

justify

justifying space

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for justify

Last Updated

19 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Justify.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/justify. Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for justify

justify

verb
jus·​ti·​fy | \ ˈjəs-tə-ˌfī How to pronounce justify (audio) \
justified; justifying

Kids Definition of justify

: to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable How can you justify your actions?

Other Words from justify

justifiable \ -​ə-​bəl \ adjective
justifiably \ -​blē \ adverb

justify

verb
jus·​ti·​fy | \ ˈjəs-tə-ˌfī How to pronounce justify (audio) \
justified; justifying

Legal Definition of justify

transitive verb

1 : to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable does not justify a denial of bail
2 : to show to have had a legally sufficient reason or cause a defendant may not set up his own standard of conduct to justify or excuse himselfState v. Doss, 568 P.2d 1054 (1977)

intransitive verb

1 : to show a legally sufficient reason for an act
2 : to swear an oath as to the ownership of sufficient property they shall justify in an amount no less than $200Oregon Revised Statutes also : to qualify as a surety by swearing such an oath the defendants sought to justify as bail State v. Blaisdell, 253 A.2d 341 (1969)

More from Merriam-Webster on justify

Nglish: Translation of justify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of justify for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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