A perfectly reasonable-sounding explanation for an inexplicable situation; particularly when the factual explanation is undesirable.

Example: Why some work hasn't been done. Real reason: because you couldn't be bothered, or found something more interesting (or less difficult) to do instead. Excuse: because you were abducted by aliens who gave you an anal probe.

(Note: theexample should not generally be used, as it's, frankly, rubbish.)

William Roscoe Caldwell, Poems (1860)


Ex*cuse" (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Excused (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Excusing.] [OE. escusen, cusen, OF. escuser, excuser, F. excuser, fr. L. excusare; ex out + causa cause, causari to plead. See Cause.]


To free from accusation, or the imputation of fault or blame; to clear from guilt; to release from a charge; to justify by extenuating a fault; to exculpate; to absolve; to acquit.

A man's persuasion that a thing is duty, will not excuse him from guilt in practicing it, if really and indeed it be against Gog's law. Abp. Sharp.


To pardon, as a fault; to forgive entirely, or to admit to be little censurable, and to overlook; as, we excuse irregular conduct, when extraordinary circumstances appear to justify it.

I must excuse what can not be amended. Shak.


To regard with indulgence; to view leniently or to overlook; to pardon.

And in our own (excuse some courtly stains.) No whiter page than Addison remains. Pope.


To free from an impending obligation or duty; hence, to disengage; to dispense with; to release by favor; also, to remit by favor; not to exact; as, to excuse a forfeiture.

I pray thee have me excused. xiv. 19.


To relieve of an imputation by apology or defense; to make apology for as not seriously evil; to ask pardon or indulgence for.

Think ye that we excuse ourselves to you? 2 Cor. xii. 19.

Syn. -- To vindicate; exculpate; absolve; acquit. - To Pardon, Excuse, Forgive. A superior pardons as an act of mercy or generosity; either a superior or an equal excuses. A crime, great fault, or a grave offence, as one against law or morals, may be pardoned; a small fault, such as a failure in social or conventional obligations, slight omissions or neglects may be excused. Forgive relates to offenses against one's self, and punishment foregone; as, to forgive injuries or one who has injured us; to pardon grave offenses, crimes, and criminals; to excuse an act of forgetfulness, an unintentional offense. Pardon is also a word of courtesy employed in the sense of excuse.


© Webster 1913.

Ex*cuse" (?), n. [Cf. F. excuse. See Excuse, v. t.]


The act of excusing, apologizing, exculpating, pardoning, releasing, and the like; acquittal; release; absolution; justification; extenuation.

Pleading so wisely in excuse of it. Shak.


That which is offered as a reason for being excused; a plea offered in extenuation of a fault or irregular deportment; apology; as, an excuse for neglect of duty; excuses for delay of payment.

Hence with denial vain and coy excuse. Milton.


That which excuses; that which extenuates or justifies a fault.

"It hath the excuse of youth."


If eyes were made for seeing. Then beauty is its own excuse for being. Emerson.

Syn. -- See Apology.


© Webster 1913.

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