1. exculpate, clear. Absolve, acquit, exonerate all mean to free from blame. Absolve is a general word for this idea. To acquit is to release from a specific and usually formal accusation: The court must acquit the accused if there is not enough evidence of guilt. To exonerate is to consider a person clear of blame or consequences for an act (even when the act is admitted), or to justify the person for having done it: to be exonerated for a crime committed in self-defense. 2. liberate, exempt. 3. excuse, forgive.