• (British) enPR: ĭkskyo͞oz', IPA: /ɪkˈskjuːz/, /ɛksˈkjuːz/
  • (America) enPR: ĭkskyo͞oz', IPA: /ɪksˈkjuz/, /ɛksˈkjuz/
  • (British) enPR: ĭkskyo͞os', IPA: /ɪkˈskjuːs/, /ɛksˈkjuːs/
  • (America) enPR: ĭkskyo͞os', IPA: /ɪksˈkjus/, /ɛksˈkjus/

excuse (excuses, present participle excusing; past and past participle excused)

  1. (transitive) To forgive; to pardon.
    I excused him his transgressions.
    • c. 1608–1609, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedy of Coriolanus”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act IV, scene vii]:
      I must excuse what cannot be amended.
    • A man's persuasion that a thing is duty, will not excuse him from guilt in practising it, if really and indeed it be against God's law.
  2. (transitive) To allow to leave, or release from any obligation.
    May I be excused from the table?
    I excused myself from the proceedings to think over what I'd heard.
  3. (transitive) To provide an excuse for; to explain, with the aim of alleviating guilt or negative judgement.
    You know he shouldn't have done it, so don't try to excuse his behavior!
  4. To relieve of an imputation by apology or defense; to make apology for as not seriously evil; to ask pardon or indulgence for.
    • Bible, 2. Corinthians xii. 19
      Think ye that we excuse ourselves to you?
Synonyms Translations Translations Translations Noun


  1. (countable, uncountable) Explanation designed to avoid or alleviate guilt or negative judgment; a plea offered in extenuation of a fault.
    • 1604-11, Bible (King James Version), Luke: XIV:18
      And they all with one consent began to make excuse.
    Tell me why you were late – and I don't want to hear any excuses!
  2. (legal) A defense to a criminal or civil charge wherein the accused party admits to doing acts for which legal consequences would normally be appropriate, but asserts that special circumstances relieve that party of culpability for having done those acts.
  3. (with preceding negative adjective, especially sorry, poor or lame) An example of something that is substandard or of inferior quality.
    That thing is a poor excuse for a gingerbread man. Hasn't anyone taught you how to bake?
    He's a sorry excuse of a doctor.
  • (explanation designed to avoid or alleviate guilt or negative judgment) pretext

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