Definition of extenuate in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɪkˈstɛnjʊeɪt/
Pronunciation: /ɛkˈstɛnjʊeɪt/


[with object]
1 (as adjective extenuating) (Of a factor or situation) acting in mitigation to lessen the seriousness of guilt or an offence: hunger and poverty are not treated by the courts as extenuating circumstances
More example sentences
  • Members of the SWC jury said, while commenting on one case, that infanticide is an abominable crime and those who commit it cannot be exonerated, whatever the extenuating circumstances.
  • Zero tolerance means that if you test positive for prohibited substance use, then barring any exculpatory or extenuating circumstances, it is likely that you will be issued with a termination notice or reduced in rank.
  • This still leaves scope for the sentence to be lessened in the light of extenuating circumstances to do with the crime itself.
mitigating, excusing, exonerative, palliating, palliative, justifying, justificatory, vindicating, exculpatory;
moderating, qualifying, softening, tempering, diminishing, lessening
2 (usually as adjective extenuated) literary Make (someone) thin: drawings of extenuated figures
More example sentences
  • A doctrinal synthesis may be a negative guide, eliminating erroneous interpretation, but only in a very extenuated sense would it be a positive aid to interpretation.
  • Both outfits extenuated the tans and muscles that had grown over the summer.
  • Its rather angular and extenuated figures are reminiscent of those of a pyxis in Berkeley which has already been discussed in its relation to our painter.



Pronunciation: /ɪkstɛnjʊˈeɪʃ(ə)n/
Pronunciation: /ɛkstɛnjʊˈeɪʃ(ə)n/
Example sentences
  • Lawyer Mark Waple, who has handled a number of cases on Fort Bragg, said the recent revelations ‘seem to be more along the lines of extenuation and mitigation rather than any defence.’
  • This is a hard doctrine, but one that has undiminished resonance for us in our own era, whose search for extenuation and victimization diminishes rather than ennobles all it touches.
  • Magee argues that Wagner's anti-Semitism, though reprehensible, was not mirrored in his work, but his extenuations have the tone of a capable defense attorney pleading for us to exercise reasonable doubt.


Pronunciation: /ɪkˈstɛnjʊət(ə)ri/ Pronunciation: /ɛkˈstɛnjʊət(ə)ri/
Example sentences
  • Here are some examples of manslaughter arising from extenuatory considerations in fact.
  • The extenuatory sentencing circumstances are various circumstances synoptically provided by the penal code, represent the actors' public harm and personal danger, and can be applied with extenuation in sentences.


Late Middle English (in the sense 'make thin'): from Latin extenuat- 'made thin', from the verb extenuare (based on tenuis 'thin').

  • thin from Old English:

    The Old English word thin shares an ancient root with Latin tenuis ‘thin, fine, shallow’, the source of extenuate (mid 16th century) and tenuous (late 16th century). An action which is unimportant in itself, but likely to lead to more serious developments is sometimes described as the thin end of the wedge. The idea here is of something being levered open by the insertion of the edge of a wedge into a narrow crack to widen the opening so that the thicker part can also pass through. The thin red line used to be a name for the British army, in reference to the traditional scarlet uniform. The phrase first occurs in The Times of 24 January 1855, reporting a debate about the distribution of medals for the Crimean War in the House of Lords at which the Earl of Ellenborough who spoke of ‘the services of that “thin red line” which had met and routed the Russian cavalry.’ It has now become so much part of our language that the colour may be altered to change the meaning—the thin blue line can mean the police force.

Words that rhyme with extenuate


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ex|tenu|ate

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