Synonyms of absolve in English:
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absolve, acquit, exempt, exonerate, forgive, pardon, vindicate
To varying degrees, all of these words mean to free from guilt or blame, and some are most frequently heard in a legal or political context. Absolve is the most general term, meaning to set free or release—not only from guilt or blame, but from a duty or obligation ( absolved from her promise to serve on the committee) or from the penalties for their violation. Pardon is usually associated with the actions of a government or military official ( President Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon following his resignation in the wake of the Watergate scandal) and specifically refers to a release from prosecution or punishment. It is usually a legal official who decides to acquit someone—that is, release someone from a specific and formal accusation of wrongdoing ( the court acquitted the accused due to lack of evidence). Exonerate suggests relief (its origin suggests the lifting of a burden), often in a moral sense, from a definite charge so that not even the suspicion of wrongdoing remains ( completely exonerated from the accusation of cheating). A person who is vindicated is also off the hook, usually due to the examination of evidence ( she vindicated herself by producing the missing documents). Exempt has less to do with guilt and punishment and more to do with duty and obligation ( exempt from paying taxes). To forgive, however, is the most magnanimous act of all: it implies not only giving up on the idea that an offense should be punished, but also relinquishing any feelings of resentment or vengefulness ( “to err is human, to forgive divine”).
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