Definition of pardon in US English:



  • 1The action of forgiving or being forgiven for an error or offense.

    ‘he obtained pardon for his sins’
    • ‘I can understand the Day of Atonement, because it is a day of forgiveness and pardon and on it the second Tablets of the Law were given.’
    • ‘Beseech me, they seemed to say, throw your arms about me and bury your head between my knees and seek pardon for your great sin.’
    • ‘The religion of love lives now, the Torah of forgiveness and pardon rules among the people… Now you'll see what glad tidings I will bring to you.’
    • ‘Every truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without letters of pardon.’
    • ‘It's a system, the dream of sin and pardon, and not pardon.’
    • ‘Jesus came to Jerusalem offering its people true liberation and a peace that no earthly ruler could give: pardon from sin and reconciliation with God.’
    • ‘Give love, give money, give pardon, give knowledge, and give whatever best you have without expectation of any return.’
    • ‘He turned from his sins to Christ and found pardon and power through His death and resurrection.’
    • ‘He is talking here about the thirst and hunger of the soul, a desire to know God and his pardon of our sins.’
    • ‘The Pope is asked more and more to be more specific in his asking for pardon, for forgiveness, vis-a-vis, the Jews.’
    • ‘The branches hereof are pardon of sin, and personal acceptance.’
    • ‘These foreigners who ask pardon from us, we will hand them over to the United Nations.’
    • ‘Let us rejoice in the reality of God's pardon of all our sins.’
    • ‘‘As I ask pardon of those whom I have offended, I freely forgive whatever has seemed to be unfair to me,’ he said.’
    • ‘They both beg God for mercy and pardon at this book's end.’
    • ‘It is human nature to indulge in sin and then pray to God for pardon.’
    • ‘Every New Yorker is forgiven for acting like a wide-eyed tourist for at least a couple months per year, and I take my pardon and run with it…’
    • ‘I smile, as I used to do with the hard men who worked for my mysterious but powerful father, and ask their pardon in my broken Arabic.’
    forgiveness, absolution, remission, clemency, mercy, lenience, leniency, condonation
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    1. 1.1 A remission of the legal consequences of an offense or conviction.
      ‘he offered a full pardon to five convicted men’
      • ‘To be sure, governors do sometimes exercise quasi-judicial functions - for example, in granting pardons to convicted offenders.’
      • ‘The Australian Government says Indonesia has an independent judiciary and a pardon is only appropriate after a conviction.’
      • ‘Ideally, those imprisoned could make it out, and there was the promise of a full pardon upon making the exit.’
      • ‘His successor, Gerald Ford, offered him a full pardon.’
      • ‘She left jail after two years and ever since has been seeking a full pardon.’
      • ‘There was public feeling that notwithstanding the granting of the pardons the conviction should be quashed.’
      • ‘Such cases were specifically excluded from the amnesty laws and the presidential pardons.’
      • ‘The old man wants to arrange a meeting with the governor of the state and get a full pardon from killing 21 men.’
      • ‘The pattern of pardons indicates that grand larceny, for which twenty-eight women were pardoned, was the one category of offence worthy of clemency.’
      • ‘The bills that legislators failed to deliberate upon last session included a resolution of industrial disputes, a commission on corruption eradication, electricity, legal pardons and property rights.’
      • ‘Would it not have been better for the remaining millions of British people if our all-powerful law machine had granted him a full pardon, together with an order never to set foot on British soil for the rest of his lifetime?’
      • ‘The King conferred revised sentences - notably four full pardons and a reinstatement - on the group, which included three majors and two lieutenant colonels.’
      • ‘The previous day, the governor granted full pardons to four other death row prisoners, based on overwhelming evidence that Chicago police had coerced false confessions from them through the use of physical torture.’
      • ‘On May 15, 1997, before he requested the transfer of the property, David obtained a pardon from his criminal convictions.’
      • ‘He added that in light of extradition requests and anti-terrorism conventions, the pardons were illegal under international law as well.’
      • ‘The Court has not yet addressed the impact of Article 6 on proceedings evaluating applications for pardons.’
      • ‘He could grant full or partial pardons; he could make them conditional or unconditional.’
      • ‘The death penalty may only be imposed for the most serious crimes with sentenced persons enjoying the right to seek a pardon or other commutation of the sentence.’
      • ‘It turns out that New Square leaders lobbied for full pardons but did not get them.’
      • ‘Thirdly, it was conceded by the applicant's own witnesses that a decision by the President of Singapore on the advice of cabinet to comply with the undertaking and grant a pardon was not justiciable in Singapore.’
      reprieve, free pardon, general pardon, amnesty, exoneration, exculpation, release, acquittal, discharge
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    2. 1.2Christian Church An indulgence, as widely sold in medieval Europe.
      • ‘In medieval times a practice of dealing in pardons developed.’
      • ‘An arrested Christian could receive a pardon simply by offering incense on a Roman altar, but many refused to do so, citing scripture passages urging faith in the one God.’
      • ‘According to Geoff Egan, a medieval finds specialist at the Museum of London, the seals were most likely attached to papal indulgences, which could be corruptly bought from the Church as a pardon for a lifetime's sins.’
      • ‘Christians are to be taught that he who sees a man in need, and passes him by, and gives [his money] for pardons, purchases not the indulgences of the pope, but the indignation of God.’


[with object]
  • 1Forgive or excuse (a person, error, or offense)

    ‘I know Catherine will pardon me’
    • ‘However, that may be a little conservative - if you'll pardon the pun.’
    • ‘But we are out here in the middle of the desert, and somewhere in Kuwait, so, I think our viewers will pardon us.’
    • ‘Is it ever possible for another person to pardon sins when the guilt remains?’
    • ‘Please pardon the less than stellar posts that have taken over this space this week.’
    • ‘You must cry to him that he will have mercy on you and pardon your sins and become your Lord and Saviour, and keep asking him until you know that he has heard you.’
    • ‘The imbroglio is eventually cleared up; Belcour discovers his mistake, is pardoned by Louisa and obtains her hand, and is acknowledged by his father, Stockwell.’
    • ‘But it does seem in passing strange that one, albeit powerful, racecourse company can drive a coach and horses, if you'll pardon the pun, through a system that had served British racing so well for so long.’
    • ‘Please pardon any errors in this chapter and future ones.’
    • ‘If this is true, it is, pardon the term, political dynamite.’
    • ‘Kindly pardon our errors and shortcomings in reciting the above Gurbani.’
    • ‘So pardon my sneaker color alert system, and excuse my laughter at the expense of’
    • ‘I do not really know where to start, but firstly Xiaxue, do pardon my limited vocabulary and spelling mistakes if there were any.’
    • ‘I hope you'll pardon my interruption, but you look so familiar.’
    • ‘Pardon my bluntness but neither of you is a spring lamb anymore.’
    • ‘Pardon the pun, but I don't think that'll fly.’
    • ‘Yet he couldn't pardon her vulgarity, and corrected the grammatical errors she made while she egged him on in bed.’
    • ‘It is easy to excuse incompetence, it is unacceptable to pardon impropriety.’
    • ‘Please pardon the delay in my response to your response to my inquiry regarding Fr.’
    • ‘Seated down to dinner at a long communal table, the events of the previous day were humorously dissected, indiscretions were excused and pardoned.’
    • ‘This new system was, pardon the pun, going to be the best thing since sliced bread.’
    forgive, absolve, have mercy on, be merciful to, deal leniently with
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    1. 1.1 Release (an offender) from the legal consequences of an offense or conviction, and often implicitly from blame.
      ‘he was pardoned for his treason’
      • ‘A Japanese photojournalist on Wednesday again expressed remorse to victims and their families of a blast at Amman airport in May after being pardoned and released from prison in connection with the fatal blast.’
      • ‘Pressure has been building on the British Government to pardon the Irish soldiers for more than a decade.’
      • ‘Eventually the defendants were released and pardoned by the state governor.’
      • ‘Veterans groups are hoping for an Act of Parliament that would officially pardon the soldiers, victims of an unforgiving time.’
      • ‘Five successive British governments have rejected appeals to pardon the soldiers and the Ministry of Defence refuses to re-open the court martial files, even on the youngest troops.’
      • ‘The President declares a proclamation of amnesty that will pardon any Confederate state that supports the union, but both the North and the South criticize it.’
      • ‘Her parents claimed she was taken by a dingo: her mother was tried, convicted, pardoned, and finally acquitted, on a charge of infanticide.’
      • ‘So let us make the best of it by pardoning the lawbreakers and gate-crashers, legalizing the coming invasion, and welcoming the entire family of any ‘guest worker’ who can find a job.’
      • ‘‘He will be given an amnesty, pardoned, after being judged guilty,’ he told the newspaper during a recent visit to Rome.’
      • ‘But those measures do not benefit the Swiss citizens who have now been pardoned.’
      • ‘He was pardoned for all three convictions and one was expunged, yet husband and wife lived apart for more than two years.’
      • ‘Two ringleaders convicted of treason were pardoned by Washington.’
      • ‘By the end of the 1990s, there had been only 10 people convicted - all of whom were subsequently pardoned and released.’
      • ‘However, they were later pardoned and amnesty laws now protect most officers from trial.’
      • ‘Defence chiefs were last night under renewed pressure to pardon hundreds of soldiers executed for cowardice during the First World War after it emerged that several officers were spared the firing squad for the same offence.’
      • ‘No one who has been finally acquitted or convicted of, or pardoned for, an offence shall be tried or punished for it again.’
      • ‘Pursuant to English common law, the King had flexible powers to pardon offenses either before or after indictment, conviction or sentencing.’
      • ‘When these men appear in leet records it is often to intervene in cases to persuade bailiffs to pardon offenders.’
      • ‘Forgiving is not identical with simply forgetting about an offense, finding an excuse or justification for the perpetrator, or even displaying mercy to the offender and pardoning him or her.’
      • ‘Victims and survivors attended amnesty applications and have the right to know if persons denied amnesty have now been pardoned.’
      exonerate, acquit, amnesty, exculpate
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    2. 1.2be pardoned Used to indicate that the actions or thoughts of someone are justified or understandable given the circumstances.
      ‘one can be pardoned the suspicion that some of his errors were deliberate’
      • ‘One could be pardoned for thinking, your Honours, that in 1988 the New South Wales Parliament thought that they were getting rid of those.’
      • ‘Before the great auk became extinct in the 1840s, you could have been pardoned for making the classic mistake and supposing there were penguins in the Arctic as well as the Antarctic, the cold north as well as the cold south.’


  • A request to a speaker to repeat something because one did not hear or understand it.

    ‘“Pardon?” I said, cupping a hand to my ear’
    • ‘Claudia Kramatschek gives a very instructive insight into Pakistani literature - pardon, into Urdu, Sindhi, Pashto, Punjabi and Balochi literature.’
    • ‘Excuse me, sorry, excuse me, sorry, pardon!’
    • ‘It's best known for its fresh seafood, but, yes, you can get French fries - pardon, pommes frites.’
    • ‘In droves, they left the ship - pardon, the hall - before the SPD chairman had finished his speech.’
    what did you say, what, eh, i beg your pardon, beg pardon, sorry, excuse me, say again
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  • pardon me (or I beg your pardon)

    • 1Used to indicate that one has not heard or understood something.

      • ‘Now, the three of them are Pakistani or four of them are Pakistani, or of Pakistani descent, pardon me?’
      1. 1.1Used to express one's anger or indignation at what someone has just said.
  • beg someone's pardon

    • Express polite apology.

      ‘I beg your pardon for intruding’
      • ‘And that's exactly the fish we can expect to catch with our thoroughly feminine lure - pardon me, madam.’
      • ‘Right, I thought it was magnifying, I beg your pardon, I am sorry.’
      • ‘I am sorry, I beg your pardon - it is not referred to in the prospectus.’
      • ‘I beg your pardon Sir, please excuse me.’
      • ‘In need of emotional support, Aidan clung to Ellen's hand and carefully maneuvered through the sea of tables, saying, ‘Excuse me, pardon me,’ left and right.’
      • ‘We don't know precisely what happened - pardon me - OK, my apology.’
      • ‘It was stupid, I have no excuse, and I beg your pardon.’
      • ‘He basically offers surety, your Honour - I am sorry, Cummins - I beg your pardon, your Honour, I am thinking ahead.’
      • ‘Oh, pardon me, I'm not too coordinated, I'm afraid.’
      • ‘‘Oops, pardon me,’ she excused herself from a conversation with Michael and Mr. Fincher and stepped outside the door.’
      what did you say, what, eh, i beg your pardon, beg pardon, sorry, excuse me, say again
      View synonyms


Middle English: from Old French pardun (noun), pardoner (verb), from medieval Latin perdonare ‘concede, remit’, from per- ‘completely’ + donare ‘give’.