Definition of absolve in English:



[with object]
  • 1Declare (someone) free from guilt, obligation, or punishment.

    ‘the pardon absolved them of any crimes’
    • ‘The fact that it's wildlife absolves us of the moral question that hangs in the air when we see footage of humans in mortal danger - why didn't the camera crew do something to help?’
    • ‘He absolves us of responsibility for our fitness.’
    • ‘The candidate takes the failure on himself and, in that way, absolves his followers of responsibility for the defeat and allows them to go on their way with a feeling of closure.’
    • ‘It is only when Conrad's case is taken on by an understanding therapist who absolves him of his guilt that he can be cured.’
    • ‘Ignorance does not absolve you from the rule of law you know.’
    • ‘By concentrating all evil in the oppressors, it absolves the victims from examining their own failings.’
    • ‘And therefore I was absolved from having to get up at a ridiculous time and then pay ten pounds for breakfast given that I'd already taken part in the ritual.’
    • ‘At a single stroke it absolves you from registering any sort of protest yourself as well as from paying any further attention to the speaker, and it gives you something interesting to look at.’
    • ‘Rather than having a genuine buy-in to reducing the number of bags used and making sure that they don't get into the environment, a plastic bag levy absolves people of responsibility.’
    • ‘Readying ourselves for conventional war does not, however, absolve us from undertaking a major transformation in the way we think about, and conceive of, the use of military force.’
    • ‘Maybe it will absolve you from legal liability in an American court of law, but the moral responsibility remains because you are unsure if your users are lying about their ages.’
    • ‘It would doubtless be of great comfort to us both if there were some form that we could sign absolving doctors of any blame, so that a professional person could administer a quick injection when the time came.’
    • ‘There, he says, the cost of calling you or attaching a note to the bottle was low, hence the supplier's failure to secure your consent absolves you of all obligation to pay.’
    • ‘At the same time, the right to free speech does not absolve us from our duty to behave responsibly.’
    • ‘Zoë, as loving in her death as she was in her life, tried to absolve her family from guilt.’
    • ‘Recovering, he is absolved of his guilt by the understanding daughter.’
    • ‘The film absolves us of any obligation to remember the disasters that followed.’
    • ‘His neatly circumscribed theory can, he believes, organize human experience and explain human nature; it also absolves him of responsibility.’
    • ‘Vieira absolved any individuals of blame for the shocking defensive display in Munich, but revealed his frustration at yet another European campaign that could be thrown away.’
    • ‘Instead he sent a message of support paying tribute to those who took part in the dispute and added: ‘I was proud to be part of it and I know that history will absolve us.’’
    exonerate, discharge, acquit, exculpate, vindicate
    forgive, pardon, excuse, give amnesty to, give dispensation to, give indulgence to
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (in church use) give absolution for (a sin)
      ‘she asked the bishop to absolve her sins’
      • ‘What lay chaplains cannot do is say Mass, anoint the sick, and absolve sin after confession.’
      • ‘The first sequence spoke to me of how merciful God is for absolving my transgressions.’
      • ‘I've recently learned that I will soon be leaving this world, so I must absolve my sins in the short time I have remaining in order to gain my acceptance into Heaven.’
      • ‘It comes from the Roman Catholic practice of confessing one's sins and being absolved of them, or ‘shriven’.’
      • ‘Many of our sins are absolved through priests in confessional boxes.’
      • ‘Juliet tells Nurse to tell her mother that she is going to Friar Laurence's cell to confess her sins and be absolved.’
      • ‘On Good Friday, continental Europeans commemorate that Christ was crucified and died to absolve our sins and give us eternal salvation.’
      • ‘The priest does come, and absolves the ghost's sins, after which it can rest.’
      • ‘If he did, a public penance would be imposed and his sin would be absolved.’
      • ‘In the Roman Catholic Church, it is the sacrament that absolves the sins of an individual through confession.’
      • ‘But on the other hand it has the sacrament of confession, whereby if you do sin you can be absolved and start afresh.’
      • ‘Your sins are absolved, my son - no more apologies necessary.’
      • ‘You can get your sins absolved while eating a burger.’
      • ‘In the Catholic tradition, absolution from sin is obtained through confession, in which the penitent confesses to a priest who then absolves the sin and administers penitence.’


Late Middle English: from Latin absolvere ‘set free, acquit’, from ab- ‘from’ + solvere ‘loosen’.