Definition of excuse in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɪkˈskjuːz/
Pronunciation: /ɛkˈskjuːz/
[with object]
1Seek to lessen the blame attaching to (a fault or offence); try to justify: he did nothing to hide or excuse Jacob’s cruelty
More example sentences
  • There are prisoners from Louisiana excusing their crimes by blaming boredom.
  • Apart from our penchant for ritual, in matters of corruption it is our fondness of explaining and excusing the crime that is most visible.
  • Without the confession of faith we are bound to rationalize our actions, excuse our sins, and dodge the law's accusation.
justify, defend, make excuses for, make a case for, explain (away), rationalize, condone, vindicate, warrant;
mitigate, palliate;
apologize for;
forgive, overlook, disregard, ignore, pass over, turn a blind eye to, turn a deaf ear to, wink at, blink at, indulge, tolerate, sanction
rare extenuate
1.1Forgive (someone) for a fault or offence: you must excuse my brother he could be excused for feeling that he was born at the wrong time
More example sentences
  • Looking at the world today and comparing the respective positions of education and catastrophe, one could be excused for thinking that education was lagging far behind.
  • Please excuse me for not telling you more than this.
  • Our party doesn't defend the corrupt or excuse them.
forgive, pardon, absolve, exonerate, acquit;
make allowances for
informal let someone off (the hook)
rare exculpate
1.2Overlook or make allowances for: sit down—excuse the mess
More example sentences
  • I'm still fooling around with it, so please excuse the mess while we fix the place up.
  • I won't get to post until after I do Sunrise so newbie readers, excuse the mess.
  • She escorted the couple inside, told them to ‘please excuse the mess,’ and did the mini-tour.
1.3(Of a fact) serve to mitigate (a person or act): his ability excuses most of his faults
More example sentences
  • These groups are quick to point out that no one has yet been killed in one of their attacks, as if that fact somehow excuses their other criminal activity.
  • Lester's negativity is presumably excused by the fact that when he did care about a band, he like really cared man.
  • The first film's rather subdued acting could be excused by the fact that it had had to set the scene, give the background to the few people who'd never heard of the stories.
2Release (someone) from a duty or requirement: it will not be possible to excuse you from attendance [with two objects]: may I be excused hockey?
More example sentences
  • Thankfully, I was excused from jury duty this time.
  • Eventually, much to my surprise, once Siana was about 8 months pregnant, Mary excused her from her duties so she could rest.
  • I would like to request that Elizabeth be excused from her usual duties.
let off, release, relieve, exempt, spare, absolve, free, liberate
rare dispense
2.1(Used in polite formulas) allow (someone) to leave a room or gathering: and now, if you’ll excuse us, duty calls
More example sentences
  • Twenty minutes later all tests had been handed in and Hector excused us from the room as the bell rang, announcing the start of a break between classes.
  • We went on and on for another hour and once again, right on time, Nurse Patz entered the room to excuse my father and send Maggie in.
  • After she was finished, I excused her from my room, and sat beside Asona.
2.2 (excuse oneself) Say politely that one is leaving: I had to excuse myself and go out of the room
More example sentences
  • He politely excuses himself, explaining that he hasn't slept a wink in the past two days.
  • And we politely excused ourselves and scheduled another date for that shoot.
  • I politely excuse myself and scurry out the door feeling like a guilty and confused child who's just walked in on something they don't quite understand and somehow feel bad about.
2.3 (be excused) (Used by school pupils) be allowed to leave the room, especially to go to the toilet: please, Miss, can I be excused?
More example sentences
  • He asked to be excused from the class for a moment and exited the room.


Pronunciation: /ɪkˈskjuːs/
Pronunciation: /ɛkˈskjuːs/
1A reason or explanation given to justify a fault or offence: there can be no excuse for any further delay the excuse that half the team failed to turn up
More example sentences
  • Outsiders, when brought before the court on charges of drunkenness, invariably pleaded to drinking too much of the local cider as the excuse for their offences.
  • What was my excuse for being absent the last day?
  • However, there's also a statutory defence for the defence to show that they had a reasonable excuse for failing to turn up.
justification, defence, reason, explanation, mitigating circumstances, mitigation, extenuation, palliation, vindication;
grounds, cause, basis, call;
argument, apology, apologia, plea
1.1A reason put forward to conceal the real reason for an action; a pretext: as an excuse to get out of the house she went to post a letter
More example sentences
  • Cynics advanced the view that the police attitude was merely an excuse and that the real reason was the fear that the hoped-for field would not materialise.
  • Students also believed their colleagues use age as an excuse to mask their real reasons for not returning to school, whatever those reasons might be.
  • The usual excuse is put forward - it will provide more jobs.
pretext, ostensible reason, pretence, front, cover-up, fabrication, evasion
informal story, alibi, line, cop-out
British informal get-out
1.2US A note written by a doctor or parent excusing a pupil from school.
Example sentences
  • Smiling, he found the doctor had left an excuse note for him to take.
  • And on my way over here, I swung by Kara and Zach's houses, and picked up excuse notes from their parents too.
  • A police spokesman said he was angry over being expelled from school after forging a doctor's note as an excuse to stay off school and play truant.
2 (an excuse for) informal A poor or inadequate example of: that pathetic excuse for a man!
More example sentences
  • Aye, we're a poor, pathetic wee excuse for a nation right enough.
  • They're all bands that you've never heard of, you poor excuse of an indie music listener!
  • That good for nothing, poor excuse of a human being.
travesty of, apology for, poor specimen of, pitiful example of, mockery of;
pale shadow of, poor imitation of



excuse me

Used as a polite apology in various contexts, such as when attempting to get someone’s attention, asking someone to move so that one may pass, or interrupting a speaker.
Example sentences
  • Now in 99% of cases with the subway as packed as it was someone would enter, say excuse me and make her move her bag.
  • They are all up in my personal space so I say excuse me and move away but they keep looking at me.
  • When he finished eating, he stood up with a small polite excuse me and placed his dish in the sink, quickly heading up to Wes' room.
North American 1.1 Used to ask someone to repeat what they have just said.

make one's excuses

Say politely that one is leaving or cannot be present: Will made his excuses and retired to his room
More example sentences
  • I presumed you would politely make your excuses and leave, the moment my world became calm, normal, mundane.
  • I politely made my excuses as I headed off leaving the two gents of the night to their business.
  • Amanda in that moment made her excuses and politely left the room.



Pronunciation: /ɪkˈskjuːzətri/
Example sentences
  • He has started rationalizing and making excusatory comments for the Dems.
  • Only these creatures would apply an excusatory tone to the release of product shipment figures that show a significant increase in sales.
  • It is one thing to leave the rules open-ended when persons are unlikely to rely on them (as with the excusatory defences discussed in Chapter 6), although even there the value of consistent judicial decisions should not be overlooked.


Middle English: from Old French escuser (verb), from Latin excusare 'to free from blame', from ex- 'out' + causa 'accusation, cause'.

  • This comes via Old French from Latin excusare ‘to free from blame’, from ex- ‘out’ and causa ‘accusation, cause’.

Words that rhyme with excuse

abstruse, abuse, adduce, Ballets Russes, Belarus, Bruce, burnous, caboose, charlotte russe, conduce, deduce, deuce, diffuse, douce, educe, goose, induce, introduce, juice, Larousse, loose, luce, misuse, moose, mousse, noose, obtuse, Palouse, produce, profuse, puce, recluse, reduce, Rousse, seduce, sluice, Sousse, spruce, traduce, truce, use, vamoose, Zeus abuse, accuse, adieux, amuse, bemuse, billets-doux, blues, booze, bruise, choose, Clews, confuse, contuse, cruise, cruse, Cruz, diffuse, do's, Druze, effuse, enthuse, fuse (US fuze), Hughes, incuse, interfuse, lose, Mahfouz, mews, misuse, muse, news, ooze, Ouse, perfuse, peruse, rhythm-and-blues, ruse, schmooze, snooze, suffuse, Toulouse, transfuse, trews, use, Vaduz, Veracruz, who's, whose, youse

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ex¦cuse

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