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par·​don ˈpär-dᵊn How to pronounce pardon (audio)
: the excusing of an offense without exacting a penalty
offered a pardon to the draft evader
: a release from the legal penalties of an offense
: an official warrant of remission of penalty
a royal pardon later released him from a death sentenceAmerican Guide Series: Maryland
: excuse or forgiveness for a fault, offense, or discourtesy
I beg your pardon
She asked my pardon for taking up so much of my time.


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pardoned; pardoning ˈpärd-niŋ How to pronounce pardon (audio)

transitive verb

: to absolve from the consequences of a fault or crime
: to allow (an offense) to pass without punishment : forgive
: to relieve of a penalty improperly assessed
Choose the Right Synonym for pardon

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

Examples of pardon in a Sentence

Noun The governor granted him a pardon. He asked my pardon for taking so much of my time. Verb he eventually pardoned his sister after she apologized I'm willing to pardon a little sloppiness of dress in such a kind and loving person.
Recent Examples on the Web
History of poultry pardons The origin of the presidential turkey pardons is a bit fuzzy. Molly Nagle, ABC News, 20 Nov. 2023 The staffer's lawsuit also alleges Giuliani was selling presidential pardons for $2 million. Virginia Chamlee, Peoplemag, 11 Sep. 2023 In 2006, former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine gave an informal pardon to Grace Sherwood, a widowed midwife who was blamed by neighbors for ruining crops, killing livestock and creating storms and subsequently accused of being a witch. CBS News, 31 Oct. 2023 Meanwhile, Burkhart received a pardon from Oklahoma Gov. Henry Bellmon in 1965, despite protests from the Osage. Shannon Toll, The Conversation, 23 Oct. 2023 If Biden or Harris had continued the PPP program or issued more pardons to renowned federal prisoners, they’d be celebrated the same way by the same people. Andre Gee, Rolling Stone, 9 Oct. 2023 The Ted star would publicly apologize for his actions in 2006 and later seek a pardon for his convictions in 2014. Colin Scanlon, Redbook, 17 Aug. 2023 Trump’s pardon resulted in Black getting freed from prison after serving a year for falsifying information on federal forms to buy four guns from a Miami firearms shop. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, 25 Oct. 2023 Trump’s pardons of Kodak Black and Lil Wayne also won him figurative points in certain communities. Andre Gee, Rolling Stone, 9 Oct. 2023
Stateside, Jennifer Lawrence steps out as a Dior ambassador and Joe Biden pardons a lucky turkey at the White House. Alexandra Schonfeld, Peoplemag, 22 Nov. 2023 The turkeys are set to be pardoned by Biden on Monday, as is an annual tradition by the White House ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. Asher Notheis, Washington Examiner, 19 Nov. 2023 In addition to this sort of gaslighting (pardon the pun), Trump also exploits xenophobic fears about E.V.s. Liza Featherstone, The New Republic, 3 Nov. 2023 Broidy, a major Trump fundraiser and a former finance official with the Republican National Committee, was pardoned by Trump in 2021. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, 18 Oct. 2023 Broidy pleaded guilty to illicit lobbying for Chinese and Malaysian interests—prosecutors left his Emirati ties in the background—and then was pardoned by Trump. David D. Kirkpatrick, The New Yorker, 15 Oct. 2023 Anyone with a brain and access to Google could easily prove otherwise, but in the minds of the rock establishment, this pathology has to be upheld, pardon the phrase, by any means necessary. Laronda Davis, Rolling Stone, 23 Oct. 2023 Ultimately, however, Powell’s legal prowess was not required: Trump pardoned Flynn in November, 2020, rendering the case moot. Charles Bethea, The New Yorker, 22 Oct. 2023 Ernest was eventually paroled and later pardoned, while Hale was released from prison in 1947 despite having been sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder. Liam Quinn, Peoplemag, 20 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pardon.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English, from Anglo-French pardun, pardoun, from parduner


Middle English, from Anglo-French parduner, from Late Latin perdonare to grant freely, from Latin per- thoroughly + donare to give — more at parboil, donation

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of pardon was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near pardon

Cite this Entry

“Pardon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
par·​don ˈpärd-ᵊn How to pronounce pardon (audio)
: the excusing of an offense without a penalty


2 of 2 verb
pardoned; pardoning ˈpärd-niŋ How to pronounce pardon (audio)
: to free from penalty
: to forgive an offense

Legal Definition


: a release from the legal penalties of an offense
: an official warrant of remission of penalty as an act of clemency compare commute
: excuse or forgiveness for a fault or offense
pardon transitive verb

More from Merriam-Webster on pardon

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