Definition of excuse in English:



  • 1Attempt to lessen the blame attaching to (a fault or offense); seek to defend or justify.

    ‘he did nothing to hide or excuse Jacob's cruelty’
    • ‘You did not excuse the wrongdoings of the executives involved in the recently uncovered corporate scandals.’
    • ‘He does not make himself anonymous by excusing his errors and sins as functions of inauspicious circumstances or bad social influences.’
    • ‘The media should refrain from reporting on events staged by politicians trying to excuse their own misconduct or making unfounded accusations.’
    • ‘You can't excuse murder just because you want to sue the drug companies or the doctors on the back end.’
    • ‘If the violence weren't emphasized, the cops and courts would go on excusing the crime as an excess of boyishness provoked by flashy dress, raging hormones, dirty music, and too much junk food.’
    • ‘Since men who've known the horror and stress of war would not excuse such crimes why are so many conservatives willing to do so?’
    • ‘It is a power in the Court to excuse breaches of trust.’
    • ‘That doesn't excuse his sin, it compounds it since he, of all people, should know better.’
    • ‘Without the confession of faith we are bound to rationalize our actions, excuse our sins, and dodge the law's accusation.’
    • ‘Now, I'm not for a minute going to excuse those crimes.’
    • ‘To excuse sin as sickness is a tempting way to avoid responsibility.’
    • ‘I don't mean to excuse the crimes committed in the name of anticommunism.’
    • ‘There are prisoners from Louisiana excusing their crimes by blaming boredom.’
    • ‘Without in any way excusing horrible atrocities against civilians, it is crucial to understand the use of violence, even terror, in terms that go beyond a single individual.’
    • ‘Apart from our penchant for ritual, in matters of corruption it is our fondness of explaining and excusing the crime that is most visible.’
    • ‘The following year, he told the conference: ‘No one but a fool would excuse crime on the basis of social conditions.’’
    • ‘From the time they were boys, others have fawned over them, winked at their flaws, excused their peccadilloes.’
    • ‘The prosecution suggested she had manufactured and exaggerated the abuse to excuse murder.’
    • ‘If I so glibly excused the murder of children, I wouldn't be able to stand my own reflection either.’
    • ‘In my opinion, excusing complicit parties excuses rape itself.’
    justify, defend, make excuses for, make a case for, rationalize, condone, vindicate, warrant
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    1. 1.1Forgive (someone) for a fault or offense.
      ‘you must excuse my sister’
      ‘he could be excused for feeling that he was born at the wrong time’
      • ‘Our party doesn't defend the corrupt or excuse them.’
      • ‘Vogts, who these days could be excused for celebrating even a narrow defeat, found himself frustrated that he had been forced to settle for a draw.’
      • ‘Indeed, so pronounced is the change that one could be excused for talking about the ‘corruption of Christmas’.’
      • ‘Frail elderly people could be excused for imagining that our society offers them little beyond goodwill, sympathy, and the hope that they will stay out of sight.’
      • ‘This sort of thing seems surreal to Ranch, the Minor League Player of the Year, so you'll have to excuse him if he does not seem excited.’
      • ‘‘You must excuse my friend - she's a little hard of hearing,’ Nate put in quickly.’
      • ‘Cricketers around the country know all about his prowess, although Ricky Ponting could be excused for having hardly heard of him.’
      • ‘These would be feats never previously achieved and one could be excused for thinking of them as over-ambitious.’
      • ‘By the start of Round 7, Leonard could be excused for wondering why he'd bothered to promote this particular fight.’
      • ‘Shareholders could be excused for thinking the Three Stooges could do better, and maybe they could.’
      • ‘Next time your electricity or gas bill comes thumping through the door on to the mat, you could be excused for not being too sure you can trust it.’
      • ‘Looking at the world today and comparing the respective positions of education and catastrophe, one could be excused for thinking that education was lagging far behind.’
      • ‘In these circumstances, perhaps Capriati could be excused for growing rattled and her temper exploded at 15-30 in the second game of the second set.’
      • ‘‘You have to excuse my room mate, she is a little delusional it looks like,’ I heard Penelope plead.’
      • ‘After the horrors of the past year, Gardner could be excused for wanting a quieter life away from frontline journalism.’
      • ‘One could be excused for thinking that the orchestration of realignment had become a target of the major parties as their relationship with the electorate weakened, and they looked to experts to advise them.’
      • ‘In the circumstances, Sutton could be excused for not cutting a dash.’
      • ‘Scoring was particularly good and some of the placed players could be excused for assuming that they might have had the winning score.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, staff at the paper could be excused for wondering how their boss manages to edit the paper when he is so busy brushing up his broadcasting techniques.’
      • ‘Please excuse me for not telling you more than this.’
      forgive, pardon, absolve, exonerate, acquit
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    2. 1.2Overlook or forgive (a fault or offense)
      ‘sit down—excuse the mess’
      • ‘But it is these days difficult to avoid the tangled mess of geopolitical analysis, so please excuse my taking liberties this week.’
      • ‘She escorted the couple inside, told them to ‘please excuse the mess,’ and did the mini-tour.’
      • ‘Please excuse all typos and/or spelling errors, I try my best!’
      • ‘Finally, the most fruitful source of food (please excuse the pun) was from the economy.’
      • ‘The songs do seem awkward at times as the tight story-line doesn't allow any gaps, but even this can be excused as the songs are very good.’
      • ‘I'm too tired to edit, so excuse any typos.’
      • ‘Please excuse any misspellings or nonsensical happenings… I have my moments.’
      • ‘Excuse my ignorance, can you please tell me who Mr Boas is?’
      • ‘I'm still fooling around with it, so please excuse the mess while we fix the place up.’
      • ‘BTW, please excuse any spelling mistakes as this keyboard is slightly out of alignment, key size wise to mine, and I keep hitting the wrong keys.’
      • ‘Please excuse the typos and misspellings, I sometimes forget to spell-check when I'm outraged.’
      • ‘Please excuse any typos or anything that doesn't make sense as my brain is not functioning well.’
      • ‘I won't get to post until after I do Sunrise so newbie readers, excuse the mess.’
      • ‘Missing an update is a small thing and readers will excuse the occasional lapse.’
      • ‘"Well, excuse my rudeness, but where's the money you owe me?’
      • ‘I know it's not exactly a hot date (excuse the pun).’
      • ‘Please excuse the typos and grammatical errors; I have no tolerance for software tools that make my life harder.’
      • ‘This is truly off the top of my head at this moment and please excuse grammatical errors.’
      • ‘Excuse my ignorance but what is DMT?’
      • ‘Please excuse the current lack of more original postings on this blog.’
      deliberately ignore, not take into consideration, disregard, take no notice of, take no account of, make allowances for, let pass, turn a blind eye to, wink at, blink at, connive at, pardon, forgive, condone, let someone off with, let go, sink, bury, let bygones be bygones
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    3. 1.3(of a fact or circumstance) serve in mitigation of (a person or act)
      ‘his ability excuses most of his faults’
      • ‘Their bond is strong, strong enough to excuse murder.’
      • ‘The difficulties encountered in investigations did not excuse wrongdoing on the part of gardaí, Mr McDowell said.’
      • ‘But none of this excuses the fact that Hollywood's silence is deafening.’
      • ‘But that does not excuse the fact that he pled guilty to harboring aliens.’
      • ‘Understanding another's pain and motives does not excuse the acts they choose to express themselves.’
      • ‘Whilst this revelation doesn't excuse the way Croydon is, it does help us understand why.’
      • ‘Lester's negativity is presumably excused by the fact that when he did care about a band, he like really cared man.’
      • ‘His intentions were good, but does that really excuse the fact that he actively supported a junta responsible for ten thousand murders?’
      • ‘Where the Crown can demonstrate that there was no prejudice to the accused flowing from a delay, then such proof may serve to excuse the delay.’
      • ‘The first film's rather subdued acting could be excused by the fact that it had had to set the scene, give the background to the few people who'd never heard of the stories.’
      • ‘That, in our submission, did nothing to excuse the delinquency of discovery.’
      • ‘These groups are quick to point out that no one has yet been killed in one of their attacks, as if that fact somehow excuses their other criminal activity.’
      • ‘Whatever he may or may not have said to his girlfriend in no way justifies or excuses his murder.’
      • ‘Even though the outcome may be perfectly just, it does not in fact excuse the way in which he dealt with it.’
      • ‘After the end of August the learning curve may have been continuing but I find that after that time there was no synergy of mutual fault which excuses any breach of the agreement by the company.’
  • 2Release (someone) from a duty or requirement.

    ‘it will not be possible to excuse you from jury duty’
    • ‘I would like to request that Elizabeth be excused from her usual duties.’
    • ‘There's only one exception and that's if you're touring, you're excused but otherwise you must be there.’
    • ‘Since our turnaround will be quick, tell Lori that she is excused from cargo duty.’
    • ‘Then he excused me from my duties for the rest of the day, and I began the long walk back to my room.’
    • ‘Consequently, it becomes virtually impossible to convince men that a woman's gender won't excuse her from duty at some point.’
    • ‘Eventually, much to my surprise, once Siana was about 8 months pregnant, Mary excused her from her duties so she could rest.’
    • ‘He figured that if he helped out early enough, they would excuse him out of clean-up duty afterwards.’
    • ‘Tomorrow night, hinging on the field test, I may excuse you from the duties, but only if you pass.’
    • ‘Thankfully, I was excused from jury duty this time.’
    • ‘At present there is no legal or legislative precedence, as far as we know, that automatically excuses a Muslim from jury duty in all circumstances.’
    • ‘Cole was not in the United squad for the Charity Shield game with Liverpool on Sunday because his wife broke a collarbone in a fall and he was excused duty.’
    • ‘He would soon be writing to RAZ asking the referees' body to excuse him so he could concentrate on his mayoral duties.’
    • ‘Her father happened to be an ardent Nazi, and when she begged him to excuse her from serving in the Hitler Youth, he staunchly refused her request.’
    • ‘I am excused from heavy duty by the Surgeon for ten days on account of my feeble condition.’
    • ‘Mariah excused her for doorbell duty and we all lounged out on the floor and sofa.’
    • ‘A magistrate in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, spared a prosecutor's vocal chords last week by excusing him from reading out a local drunk's previous convictions.’
    let off, release, relieve, exempt, spare, absolve, free, liberate
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    1. 2.1(used in polite formulas) allow (someone) to leave a room or gathering.
      ‘now, if you'll excuse us, we have to be getting along’
      • ‘The teacher excused him politely, and asked the class to return to their seats.’
      • ‘Soon, Nathaniel excused her, and she quickly stalked from the room, storming up above to Silver Beard's cabin.’
      • ‘Dinner was awkward, and Chris went upstairs to his own hotel room as soon as he could be excused.’
      • ‘Finally, after all the dishes and pots had been cleaned and put away Enela was excused to her room.’
      • ‘I finished my eggs and without asking to be excused, I retreated to the comfort of my room.’
      • ‘After she was finished, I excused her from my room, and sat beside Asona.’
      • ‘Other wise all of the women and children present would have to either excuse themselves or sit there all day waiting for it to be done with.’
      • ‘He stopped dead in his tracks and waited to be formerly excused from the room.’
      • ‘Alison without even asking to be excused quietly got up and left the room.’
      • ‘If every dish of the meal you've prepared is rejected, allow the child to be excused from the table until the next meal.’
      • ‘If they truly want a private conversation then they should be polite and ask to be excused.’
      • ‘Ryla politely asked to be excused and returned to her diligent watch over Moon.’
      • ‘Dekker was excused from the room, and three members of the Haddon Heights church took the stand.’
      • ‘Twenty minutes later all tests had been handed in and Hector excused us from the room as the bell rang, announcing the start of a break between classes.’
      • ‘But for now you will be excused from class and go straight to your room and sleep, is that clear?’
      • ‘Zack was quiet, then at a good moment he intervened and politely excused us and took me on a quick tour of the house.’
      • ‘Without asking to be excused he stood up and left the room through the kitchen.’
      • ‘We went on and on for another hour and once again, right on time, Nurse Patz entered the room to excuse my father and send Maggie in.’
      • ‘She smiled and she politely excused them from the painful conversation.’
      • ‘Lexi was glad beyond her own realization when her father stood and ushered his guests into a social room, excusing Alexis for the night.’
    2. 2.2Say politely that one is leaving.
      • ‘Halfway through our interview, Vernon politely excuses himself to speak with one of his distributors who has stopped in with a delivery - he's also brought his wife who Vernon has never met.’
      • ‘I politely excused myself, saying that it had actually been a nice time.’
      • ‘The doctor nodded to both of them then excused himself from the room.’
      • ‘I politely excuse myself and scurry out the door feeling like a guilty and confused child who's just walked in on something they don't quite understand and somehow feel bad about.’
      • ‘After finding the employee who called his name, he politely excused himself and disappeared.’
      • ‘He politely excuses himself, explaining that he hasn't slept a wink in the past two days.’
      • ‘And we politely excused ourselves and scheduled another date for that shoot.’
      • ‘Paulo politely excused himself noting the amount of work still left to do.’
      • ‘Needless to say, I put on my best smile and shook each of their hands, answering their questions politely before excusing myself to my room.’
      • ‘Fortunately, Scott had enough composure to be able to excuse himself politely.’
    3. 2.3(used especially by school pupils) be allowed to leave the room, especially to go to the bathroom.
      ‘please, can I be excused?’
      • ‘He asked to be excused from the class for a moment and exited the room.’


  • 1A reason or explanation put forward to defend or justify a fault or offense.

    ‘there can be no possible excuse for any further delay’
    ‘no one will have the excuse that they didn’t know’
    • ‘What was my excuse for being absent the last day?’
    • ‘Let's hope that this does not become an excuse for formally launching operations prior to consensus building efforts.’
    • ‘So I just stood, open-mouthed, floundering, desperately trying to think up a reasonable excuse for not having shopped there recently.’
    • ‘She glared at Sean with a look that conveyed that she didn't buy his excuse for a second.’
    • ‘She told the court there had been a reasonable excuse for having them there.’
    • ‘The newest excuse for sickness and probably the next bandwagon to jump on for a claim is sick building syndrome.’
    • ‘A cultural practice that is manifestly wrong on humanist grounds becomes the excuse for a colonizing mission whose tactics are in turn violent and unjust.’
    • ‘This is true, without any exception for the effects of climate, which some have set up as a kind of justification or excuse for the enforcement of compulsory labour.’
    • ‘This is not by way of an excuse for my subsequent behaviour, rather some explanation.’
    • ‘Outsiders, when brought before the court on charges of drunkenness, invariably pleaded to drinking too much of the local cider as the excuse for their offences.’
    • ‘However, there's also a statutory defence for the defence to show that they had a reasonable excuse for failing to turn up.’
    justification, defence, reason, explanation, mitigating circumstances, mitigation, extenuation, palliation, vindication
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    1. 1.1A reason put forward to conceal the real reason for an action; a pretext.
      ‘they use their hunting as an excuse to get away from the womenfolk’
      • ‘Were scheduling conflicts an excuse or a real factor in your relationship?’
      • ‘Kym kicked 2 goals and his team won the game but his real excuse to take the day off on Monday arrived at 3.30 that morning.’
      • ‘Cynics advanced the view that the police attitude was merely an excuse and that the real reason was the fear that the hoped-for field would not materialise.’
      • ‘The new law could be for child safety, but it could also be an easy excuse to write more tickets.’
      • ‘The day most Americans looked forward to as either a great excuse to go traveling for no real reason or a few days off from work.’
      • ‘The Patriot Act was put forward as an excuse and I was asked to reapply.’
      • ‘Using the death of a friend as an excuse to write a strip about how many women he used and discarded in one year?’
      • ‘The usual excuse is put forward - it will provide more jobs.’
      • ‘Students also believed their colleagues use age as an excuse to mask their real reasons for not returning to school, whatever those reasons might be.’
      • ‘She is using the thesis as an excuse to write up all of her unpublished data, but she has no experience with this.’
      • ‘They may be accused of exaggerating their symptoms or just looking for an excuse to get out of working.’
      • ‘It can be said that Tuesday night is the one night when there is no real excuse to party.’
      • ‘Similarly, the ISC restated the familiar excuses put forward to explain away the critical failures: chiefly a shortage of cash from government.’
      • ‘The excuse usually put forward by former Communists for their support of the Great Terror in the 1930s is that they did not know what was really going on in the Soviet Union.’
      • ‘The research was interesting and seemingly never ending, and I realized at one point I was using research as an excuse to avoid writing.’
      • ‘Though most of the dialog gives the impression the film is interested in who the real killer is the murder plot line is really an excuse to throw attractive and dangerous men into Fanny's depressed life.’
      • ‘In your cartoons, you make fun of people who use Internet activism as an excuse to avoid real activism.’
      • ‘We find pretexts and excuses to nip through the main room to check on David, bringing him half an orange, a chunk of chocolate, so he knows we're still thinking of him.’
      • ‘Some movies these days just seem like veiled excuses for their real purpose: putting together a groovy sound-track.’
      pretext, ostensible reason, pretence, front, cover-up, fabrication, evasion
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  • 2informal A poor or inadequate example of.

    ‘that pathetic excuse for a man!’
    • ‘Not believing my first kiss had been with that pathetic excuse of a man, one that I didn't even know.’
    • ‘This pathetic excuse of a party is an embarrassment to us all.’
    • ‘He felt betrayal, he felt used and most of all he felt stupid and embarrassed especially for buying such an expensive gift for this poor excuse of a woman.’
    • ‘Aye, we're a poor, pathetic wee excuse for a nation right enough.’
    • ‘Often not at home, either out with some rich associate or with some pathetic excuse of a girl.’
    • ‘Some sites have developed into good news portals which have adjusted to the way the web is moving, others are just a poor excuse of their printed version.’
    • ‘That good for nothing, poor excuse of a human being.’
    • ‘She shuddered at the thought of marrying that poor excuse of a man.’
    • ‘I apologize for the poor excuse of an update today, but I'm tired.’
    • ‘They're all bands that you've never heard of, you poor excuse of an indie music listener!’
    travesty of, apology for, poor specimen of, pitiful example of, mockery of
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  • excuse me

    • 1Said politely in various contexts, for example when attempting to get someone's attention, asking someone to move so that one may pass, or interrupting or disagreeing with a speaker.

      • ‘They are all up in my personal space so I say excuse me and move away but they keep looking at me.’
      • ‘Now, excuse me for butting in like this, Germaine, but, putting this politely, albeit, bluntly: is this really true?’
      • ‘Excuse me for interrupting, Amy, this is Jack Cafferty.’
      • ‘Now in 99% of cases with the subway as packed as it was someone would enter, say excuse me and make her move her bag.’
      • ‘When he finished eating, he stood up with a small polite excuse me and placed his dish in the sink, quickly heading up to Wes' room.’
      • ‘Excuse me, do you have this in a size nine and a half?’
      • ‘The last hole looked out to a torture chamber - excuse me - an interrogation room.’
      • ‘I was pulled passed bunches of people, yelling excuse me and avoiding swinging elbows.’
      1. 1.1North American Said when asking someone to repeat what they have just said.
  • make one's excuses

    • Say politely that one is leaving or cannot be present.

      • ‘But before I could make my excuses and leave, they made their excuses and left.’
      • ‘I presumed you would politely make your excuses and leave, the moment my world became calm, normal, mundane.’
      • ‘The only difference is while I enjoy dancing, John makes his excuses whenever we mention teaching him the steps.’
      • ‘I try not to entertain the doubts; I leave them sitting in the corner, reading material out of reach, and hope they'll get bored and make their excuses.’
      • ‘He let them into his home and was making them a drink while they searched the house before making their excuses and leaving.’
      • ‘I will be making my excuses to parties this person throws from now on.’
      • ‘Amanda in that moment made her excuses and politely left the room.’
      • ‘I politely made my excuses as I headed off leaving the two gents of the night to their business.’
      • ‘Some of us took the opportunity to make our excuses and hit for the nearest McDonald's (not too far away, of course).’
      • ‘We made our excuses and left, leaving the presents behind to be opened another day, stringing out Christmas yet further.’


Middle English: from Old French escuser (verb), from Latin excusare to free from blame from ex- out + causa accusation, cause.