• (British) IPA: /əbˈzɒlv/
  • (America) IPA: /æbˈzɑlv/, /æbˈsɑlv/, /əbˈzɑlv/, /əbˈsɑlv/

absolve (absolves, present participle absolving; past and past participle absolved)

  1. (transitive) To set free, release or discharge (from obligations, debts, responsibility etc.). [First attested around 1350 to 1470.]
    You will absolve a subject from his allegiance.
    • 1851, Thomas Babington Macaulay, chapter XIV, in The History of England from the Accession of James the Second, volume III, London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, OCLC 1069526323 ↗, page 410 ↗:
      The Committee divided, and Halifax was absolved by a majority of fourteen.
  2. (transitive, obsolete) To resolve; to explain; to solve. [Attested from the late 15th century until the mid 17th century.]
    • 1595, George Peele, The Old Wives’ Tale, The Malone Society Reprints, 1908, lines 331-332,
      […] he that can monsters tame, laboures atchive, riddles absolve […]
    • 1646, Thomas Browne, “Of the blackneſſe of Negroes”, in Pseudodoxia Epidemica: Or, Enquiries into Very Many Received Tenents, and Commonly Presumed Truths, London: Printed for Tho. Harper for Edvvard Dod, OCLC 838860010 ↗; Pseudodoxia Epidemica: Or, Enquiries into Very Many Received Tenents, and Commonly Presumed Truths. […], 2nd corrected and much enlarged edition, London: Printed by A. Miller, for Edw[ard] Dod and Nath. Ekins, […], 1650, OCLC 152706203 ↗, book 6, page 276 ↗:
      we ſhall not abſolve the doubt.
  3. (transitive) To pronounce free from or give absolution for a penalty, blame, or guilt. [First attested in the mid 16th century.]
  4. (transitive, legal) To pronounce not guilty; to grant a pardon for. [First attested in the mid 16th century.]
    • 1725, Homer; [Alexander Pope], transl., “Book XI”, in The Odyssey of Homer. […], volume III, London: Printed for Bernard Lintot, OCLC 8736646 ↗, line 702, page 121 ↗:
      Abſolves the juſt, and dooms the guilty ſouls.
  5. (transitive, theology) To grant a remission of sin; to give absolution to. [First attested in the mid 16th century.]
  6. (transitive, theology) To remit a sin; to give absolution for a sin. [First attested in the late 16th century.]
    • '''1776

      }, Edward Gibbon, chapter LXVII, in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, volume VI, London: Printed for W[illiam] Strahan; and T[homas] Cadell, […], OCLC 995235880 ↗, page 447 ↗:

      In his name I abſolve''' your perjury and ſanctify your arms: follow my footſteps in the paths of glory and ſalvation; and if ſtill ye have ſcruples, devolve on my head the puniſhment and the ſin.

  7. (transitive, obsolete) To finish; to accomplish. [Attested from the late 16th century until the early 19th century.]
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book VII ↗”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker […] [a]nd by Robert Boulter […] [a]nd Matthias Walker, […], OCLC 228722708 ↗; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554 ↗, lines 93–94:
      and the work begun, how ſoon / Abſolv'd,
  8. (transitive) To pass a course or test; to gain credit for a class; to qualify academically.
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