Definition of apology in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˈpɒlədʒi/

noun (plural apologies)

1A regretful acknowledgement of an offence or failure: we owe you an apology my apologies for the delay
More example sentences
  • No apology for failure to deliver on costly contracts or to adopt more flexible and consumer-friendly policies.
  • He has made mistakes, as he himself acknowledged during a televised apology last weekend.
  • He acknowledged his apology couldn't make the incident and hurt go away for the victim.
expression of regret, one's regrets;
French amende honorable
informal apols
Australian/New Zealand informal beg-pardon
1.1 (apologies) A formal expression of regret at being unable to attend a meeting or social function: Robert can’t come and sends his apologies
More example sentences
  • Have been severely incapacitated by latest pregnancy symptoms so apologies for absence.
  • Other councillors, who were unable to attend, sent their apologies and offered their support.
  • At the February meeting of the Association three new members were welcomed and despite some apologies the meeting was very well attended.
2 (an apology for) A very poor or inadequate example of: we were shown into an apology for a bedroom
More example sentences
  • It is all very well to talk about Pub City and Fun City, but it all happens in this poor apology of a downtown, a very long way off from the workplace that gets longer by the day with every additional vehicle they buy.
  • Its American cousin makes a poor apology for a nest, it is true, merely a loose bundle or platform of sticks, as flimsily put together as a dove's nest.
  • But in this sorry apology for a summer, show day on Sunday dawned with glorious sunshine and warm temperatures.
travesty of, excuse for, inadequate example of, poor imitation of, poor substitute for, pale shadow of, mockery of, caricature of
3 another term for apologia.
Example sentences
  • We can write letters to foreign newspapers, websites, post personal apologies on our blogs.
  • The claim ‘I was striving to advance human knowledge’ should be regarded as a stout ethical defence, not an apology.
  • Mr Clarke argues the same case, with added apologies for restricting personal freedom.
defence, apologia, justification, vindication


with apologies to

Used to introduce a parody or adaptation of a particular person’s work: here, with apologies to Rudyard Kipling, is a more apt version of ‘If’
More example sentences
  • Or, to put it negatively, and with apologies to (the heirs and assigns of) Jacqueline Susann: Once is Not Enough.
  • ‘And with apologies to W B Yeats, I believe that ‘things can come together, and that the centre can hold’.
  • Editor's note: An excerpt of a script treatment now making the rounds in Hollywood is reprinted here, with apologies to Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola.


Mid 16th century (denoting a formal defence against an accusation): from French apologie, or via late Latin from Greek apologia 'a speech in one's own defence', from apo 'away'+ -logia (see -logy).

  • Used in legal contexts at first, an apology was a formal defence against an accusation; it goes back to Greek apologia ‘a speech in one's own defence’.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: apol|ogy

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