Share this entry

Share this page

acquit

Syllabification: ac·quit
Pronunciation: /əˈkwit
 
/

Definition of acquit in English:

verb (acquits, acquitting, acquitted)

1 [with object] (usually be acquitted) Free (someone) from a criminal charge by a verdict of not guilty: she was acquitted on all counts the jury acquitted him of murder
More example sentences
  • The four white officers were acquitted on criminal charges a year after the shooting.
  • On four of the seven charges he was acquitted; on the other three the jury was unable to agree.
  • The five officers were acquitted of manslaughter charges on the direction of the trial judge.
Synonyms
clear, exonerate, find innocent, absolve;
discharge, release, free, set free
informal let off (the hook)
formal exculpate
2 (acquit oneself) Conduct oneself or perform in a specified way: all the young women in the contest acquitted themselves well
More example sentences
  • All performers acquitted themselves with considerable talent and enthusiasm and seemed to genuinely enjoy their roles.
  • However, it was a wonderful event and the performers all acquitted themselves well.
  • Unlike the usual heroine, she has been given enough scope to perform and she acquits herself well.
Synonyms
behave (oneself), conduct oneself, perform, act
formal comport oneself
2.1 (acquit oneself of) archaic Discharge (a duty or responsibility): they acquitted themselves of their charge with vigilance
More example sentences
  • They felt they'd acquitted themselves of their minimum responsibility but getting the statement into the technically true category.
  • The administration will finally have acquitted itself of the charge of failing to admit its mistakes, but at a terrible price.
  • We life members of the thinking classes naturally acquit ourselves of bias from the start.

Origin

Middle English (originally in the sense 'pay a debt, discharge a liability'): from Old French acquiter, from medieval Latin acquitare 'pay a debt', from ad- 'to' + quitare 'set free'.

More
  • quit from (Middle English):

    An Old French word from the same root as quiet, Latin quietus ‘quiet, still, resting’. The first meanings of quit were ‘to pay off a debt’, ‘to repay a service or favour’, and ‘to set free’. It also meant ‘to declare a person not guilty’, a meaning for which we would now use the related word acquit. The modern meanings, ‘to leave, go away’, and ‘to stop doing something’, are from the 17th century. To call it quits is to agree that terms are now equal, especially in the settlement of a debt, or to decide to abandon what you are doing in order to cut your losses. It dates back only to the 1890s and is a fairly informal expression, but an earlier version, cry quits, is recorded from the 1630s and comes from the world of officialdom. Church records of accounts from the late 15th century use the word quits to indicate that money owing to someone has been paid in full. Church business was usually conducted in Latin, and so quits probably arose from a scribe's shortening of the medieval Latin word quittus, meaning ‘discharged’, written on receipts to indicate that the goods had been paid for. Quite, found from the Middle Ages in the sense ‘completely, fully’ is probably from quit. The sense ‘fairly’ does not develop until the 19th century.

Definition of acquit in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day resilient
Pronunciation: rɪˈzɪlɪənt
adjective
able to recoil or spring back into shape…