20 Synonyms for “Excuse”

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The sentiment behind the verb excuse can be expressed in many ways, whether the sense is of “remove blame from” or “stop blaming” (or even, in many cases, “deflect attention from blame”). Here are twenty words and phrases that will serve, along with their pertinent meanings.

1. absolve: free from guilt or responsibility

2. acquit: discharge from accusation or obligation; also, perform satisfactorily (as in the statement “I am certain that he will acquit himself well”)

3. blink at: approve of something wrong or allow something wrong to continue

4. brush aside: ignore or disregard something that is wrong

5. clear: free from accusation or blame (usually, in reference to someone clearing one’s name, or establishing one’s innocence)

6. close one’s eyes to: see “blink at”

7. condone: see “blink at”

8. discount: minimize the importance of something

9. dismiss: reject the importance of something, or formally act to excuse, as when criminal charges are dismissed

10. exculpate: prove not guilty

11. exonerate: see exculpate

12. forgive: stop blaming, or excuse someone’s transgression

13. gloss over: treat as not important

14. overlook: see “blink at”

15. paper over: see “blink at” (also means “hide”)

16. pardon: see absolve

17. shrug off: see “blink at”

18. vindicate: show that someone is not guilty (also means “validate or confirm something criticized or doubted”)

19. wave off: see “blink at”

20. wink at: see “blink at”

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