Definition of justify in US English:


verbjustified, justifies, justifying

[with object]
  • 1Show or prove to be right or reasonable.

    ‘the person appointed has fully justified our confidence’
    • ‘The defendant cannot justify one libel by proving the truth of another distinct libel.’
    • ‘Some of the results were not rigorously proved but were justified using phrases such as ‘it seems to me’ and ‘I am convinced’.’
    • ‘Your anxiety may prove to be fully justified, and if after the first year I'm persuaded that you are right I will have an opportunity to remedy the situation.’
    • ‘His decision to step down from being a prefect has proved to be justified.’
    • ‘His sentiments were echoed by Richard Crumlish and it seems their confidence has been fully justified after the opening shows.’
    • ‘If the demoted tenancy is breached, the council as landlords can evict the tenant without having to satisfy the court that this is justified or reasonable.’
    • ‘This is why choosing a broader approach for this paper would hopefully prove to be justified.’
    • ‘It is not disputed that the onus is on the plaintiff to prove disability, while the onus is on the defendant to prove that dismissal was justified.’
    • ‘In the end I think all will be justified and proven.’
    • ‘Wall was immense throughout and fully justified the complete confidence management had in him.’
    • ‘All of the pretexts used to justify the war have proven to be lies and fabrications.’
    • ‘The recommendation of the duck proved to have been justified.’
    • ‘In other words, the arguments used to justify the ban have proven false.’
    • ‘Fully justifying its reputation, the Turkish cuisine, served at all the functions I attended, was a pleasant and delicious experience.’
    • ‘Every one of you must first prove and justify each talent and privilege.’
    • ‘Within days, moreover, this confidence proved justified.’
    • ‘On the few occasions when he did question it he received a sharp response which on the figures was fully justified.’
    • ‘It was not an absolute right but any limitation of it had to be justified on reasonable grounds.’
    • ‘Her smile conveyed such a warm sense of wellbeing as to suggest she now felt confident that her problems were solved, and her confidence would subsequently prove to be entirely justified.’
    • ‘They are making a show that the system has some reasonable and justified basis - they are using law and threat of force to bolster a basically irrational system.’
    give grounds for, give reasons for, give a justification for, show just cause for, explain, give an explanation for, account for, prove to be reasonable, show to be reasonable, provide a rationale for, rationalize
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    1. 1.1 Be a good reason for.
      ‘the situation was grave enough to justify further investigation’
      • ‘The potential cost to the environment and human health of pollution caused by badly-managed composting sites justifies the level of new regulation.’
      • ‘On the face of it, this is an absurd claim and nothing in the piece justifies the headline.’
      • ‘Surely, the Prime Minister doesn't believe that 150 unbundled lines justifies the tag of competition?’
      • ‘However, I personally remain unconvinced that this is a sufficient reason to justify public interest in the Clinton case.’
      • ‘The Court therefore finds that the reasons put forward as justifying the interference found are not sufficient to satisfy the requirements of paragraph of Article 8.’
      • ‘Without the cash these commercially unviable exchanges would not have supported enough end users to justify the investment.’
      • ‘The criticisms of the law, and the absence of any satisfactory rationale justifies this course.’
      • ‘Mr O'Grady said the lack of action by the police or Crown Prosecution Service since he was arrested justified his claim and proved the failings and shortcomings of the police and justice system.’
      • ‘Certainly, it is hard to discern the leap in activity that could justify this level of response.’
      • ‘These seem reasons enough to justify his more favourable assessment in recent years.’
      • ‘This is the most surprising number they've yet come up with and I hope one that will prove and justify their longevity and popularity.’
      • ‘Well, there are a whole lot of reasons to justify the tax cut the president's been advocating.’
      • ‘The reasons justifying this approach were spelled out in an editorial in Le Monde.’
      • ‘It justifies a larger space and needs some benevolent soul to offer a venue and find the time to liaise with art teachers across the area.’
      • ‘The softness, strength and appearance of tissues are used as key reasons to justify the use of virgin forest wood fibres.’
      • ‘The potential cost to the environment and human health justifies the level of new regulation.’
      • ‘They will usually be determined on the papers unless there are exceptional reasons justifying a hearing.’
      • ‘There was no possible reason to justify any sort of feeling for this girl.’
      • ‘The article is headlined: ‘Cyber war declared on World Bank’ but nothing in the piece really justifies such a strident headline.’
      • ‘However, the difficulties encountered with this approach are one of the major reasons justifying the retention of the Fair Trading Act provisions discussed below.’
      warrant, be good reason for, be a justification for
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  • 2Theology
    Declare or make righteous in the sight of God.

    • ‘The certainty Christians should have through being justified through faith in Christ is most important, and comes through the direct witness of the Spirit, indwelling the believer.’
    • ‘Some falsely claimed that because we are justified by faith, Paul taught that we can sin as much as we like!’
    • ‘In Romans 3 Paul insists on six occasions that we are justified by faith.’
    • ‘But now those who have faith and who are justified by grace are freed from these requirements for justification.’
    • ‘We are justified only by faith in this Jesus, he insists.’
  • 3Printing
    Adjust (a line of type or piece of text) so that the print fills a space evenly or forms a straight edge at one or both margins.

    • ‘An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that justifying online text would yield excessive hyphenation.’
    • ‘In this justification method, the last line is not justified.’
    • ‘The last of the three margins - the left hand margin - was used to keep a clear line for justifying the text.’
    • ‘The following paragraph has been justified by a monospaced text-processing system.’
    • ‘Now poems are easily detectable on the page, because their right hand margins aren't justified.’


Middle English (in the senses ‘administer justice to’ and ‘inflict a judicial penalty on’): from Old French justifier, from Christian Latin justificare ‘do justice to’, from Latin justus (see just).