Definition of apology in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˈpäləjē/

noun (plural apologies)

1A regretful acknowledgment of an offense or failure: we owe you an apology I make no apologies for supporting that policy
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
1.1 (apologies) Used to express formally one’s regret at being unable to attend a meeting or social function: apologies for absence were received from Miss Brown my apologies for the delay
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.
3A reasoned argument or writing in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine: a specious apology for capitalism
More example sentences
  • Just war theory has in practice been little more than a religious apology for the excesses of empire.
  • First, in arguing that atheism is unscientific I do not wish to present an apology for any theistic doctrine or any particular religious faith.
  • We are frequently urged to understand the terrorists, but too often the call to understand is code for justification and apology.
defense of, explanation of, justification of, vindication of, apologia for


with apologies to

Used before the name of an author or artist to indicate that something is a parody or adaptation of their 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 defense against an accusation): from French apologie, or via late Latin from Greek apologia 'a speech in one's own defense', 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

Syllabification: a·pol·o·gy

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