Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To explain (a fault or an offense) in the hope of being forgiven or understood: He arrived late and excused his tardiness in a flimsy manner.
  • transitive v. To apologize for (oneself) for an act that could cause offense: She excused herself for being late.
  • transitive v. To grant pardon to; forgive: We quickly excused the latecomer.
  • transitive v. To make allowance for; overlook: Readers must excuse the author's youth and inexperience. See Synonyms at forgive.
  • transitive v. To serve as justification for: Brilliance does not excuse bad manners.
  • transitive v. To free, as from an obligation or duty; exempt: In my state, physicians and lawyers are excused from jury duty.
  • transitive v. To give permission to leave; release: The child ate quickly and asked to be excused.
  • n. An explanation offered to justify or obtain forgiveness.
  • n. A reason or grounds for excusing: Ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law.
  • n. The act of excusing.
  • n. A note explaining an absence.
  • n. Informal An inferior example: a poor excuse for a poet; a sorry excuse for a car.
  • idiom Excuse me Used to acknowledge and ask forgiveness for an action that could cause offense.
  • idiom Excuse me Used to request that a statement be repeated.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To forgive; to pardon.
  • v. To allow to leave.
  • v. To provide an excuse for; to explain, with the aim of alleviating guilt or negative judgement.
  • n. An explanation designed to avoid or alleviate guilt or negative judgment.
  • n. 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.
  • n. An example.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To free from accusation, or the imputation of fault or blame; to clear from guilt; to release from a charge; to justify by extenuating a fault; to exculpate; to absolve; to acquit.
  • transitive v. To pardon, as a fault; to forgive entirely, or to admit to be little censurable, and to overlook.
  • transitive v. To regard with indulgence; to view leniently or to overlook; to pardon.
  • transitive v. To free from an impending obligation or duty; hence, to disengage; to dispense with; to release by favor; also, to remit by favor; not to exact.
  • transitive v. To relieve of an imputation by apology or defense; to make apology for as not seriously evil; to ask pardon or indulgence for.
  • n. The act of excusing, apologizing, exculpating, pardoning, releasing, and the like; acquittal; release; absolution; justification; extenuation.
  • n. That which is offered as a reason for being excused; a plea offered in extenuation of a fault or irregular deportment; apology
  • n. That which excuses; that which extenuates or justifies a fault.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To offer an excuse or apology for: often reflexively.
  • To furnish or serve as an excuse or apology for; serve as justification for; justify.
  • To pardon, as a fault; forgive entirely, or overlook as venial or not blameworthy.
  • To free or release from an obligation or duty; release by favor.
  • To remit; refrain from exacting: as, to excuse a fine.
  • To regard, permit, or receive with indulgence.
  • To shield from blame.
  • Synonyms To extenuate.
  • To exempt, release, let off.
  • n. The act of excusing or apologizing, exculpating or justifying.
  • n. A plea offered or reason given in extenuation of a fault or a failure in duty; an apology; as, the debtor makes excuses for delay of payment.
  • n. That which serves as a reason or ground for excusing; an extenuating or justifying fact or argument, or what is adduced as such by way of apology or to secure pardon.
  • n. Synonyms Apology, Excuse, Plea. See apology.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. grant exemption or release to
  • n. a poor example
  • v. excuse, overlook, or make allowances for; be lenient with
  • n. a note explaining an absence
  • v. accept an excuse for
  • v. defend, explain, clear away, or make excuses for by reasoning
  • n. a defense of some offensive behavior or some failure to keep a promise etc.
  • v. serve as a reason or cause or justification of
  • v. ask for permission to be released from an engagement

Etymologies

Middle English excusen, from Old French excuser, from Latin excūsāre : ex-, ex- + causa, accusation; see cause.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English excusen, from Old French escuser, from Latin excūsō ("to excuse, allege in excuse, literally, free from a charge"), from ex ("out") + causa ("a charge"); see cause and accuse. (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • An excuse you might give your boss for being late to work?

    "I set half the clocks in my house ahead an hour and the other half back an hour Saturday and spent 18 hours in some kind of space-time continuum loop, reliving Sunday (right up until the explosion). I was able to exit the loop only by reversing the polarity of the power source, exactly e*log(pi), of the clocks in the house while simultaneously rapping my dog on the snout with a rolled up Times. Accordingly, I will be in late, or early."

    May 14, 2010

  • An excuse is the English people's word for the falsehood they tell when they wish to avoid a social obligation. They do not tell the truth on these occasions, fearing, and with some reason, that the truth would give unnecessary offence. -- ''Yashima, or, The Gorgeous West'' by R T Sherwood, 1931.

    December 24, 2008

  • "Well, excuuuuuse me! So I forgot my excuse!" said Tom, accusingly.

    November 22, 2007