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[ik-sten-yoo-eyt] /ɪkˈstɛn yuˌeɪt/
verb (used with object), extenuated, extenuating.
to represent (a fault, offense, etc.) as less serious:
to extenuate a crime.
to serve to make (a fault, offense, etc.) seem less serious.
to underestimate, underrate, or make light of:
Do not extenuate the difficulties we are in.
  1. to make thin, lean, or emaciated.
  2. to reduce the consistency or density of.
Origin of extenuate
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English (adj.) < Latin extenuātus, past participle of extenuāre, equivalent to ex- ex-1 + tenuāre to make thin or small; see -ate1
Related forms
extenuating, adjective
extenuative, adjective
extenuator, noun
nonextenuative, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for extenuated
Historical Examples
  • M. Torceanu has invented nothing, he has extenuated nothing.

    The Chautauquan, Vol. III, January 1883 The Chautauquan Literary and Scientific Circle
  • She neither denied nor extenuated the crime, and she acknowledged it to have been premeditated.

    The Eternal City Hall Caine
  • Shall God do so much for you, and shall it be overlooked, extenuated, and made nothing of?

  • There are things which cannot be extenuated however we may try to palliate them.

  • I should then be certain that she extenuated my gaucherie at her party, whether I got speech with her or no.

    She and I, Volume 1 John Conroy Hutcheson
  • No defect is extenuated, nor is there any patriotic exaggeration of merits.

    The Philippine Islands Ramon Reyes Lala
  • I know the caution is given to a brave man, and nothing shall be extenuated.

  • Again, you say I not only extenuated the conduct of the obstructionists, but justified it.

    Lord Randolph Churchill Winston Spencer Churchill
  • The scant stores on hand had been stretched and extenuated by the use of chicory and similar supplements.

    The Iron Ration George Abel Schreiner
  • Weakened, exhausted, extenuated as he is, how can he endure it?

    The Clique of Gold Emile Gaboriau
British Dictionary definitions for extenuated


verb (transitive)
to represent (an offence, a fault, etc) as being less serious than it appears, as by showing mitigating circumstances
to cause to be or appear less serious; mitigate
to underestimate or make light of
  1. to emaciate or weaken
  2. to dilute or thin out
Derived Forms
extenuating, adjective
extenuation, noun
extenuator, noun
extenuatory, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Latin extenuāre to make thin, from tenuis thin, frail
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for extenuated



1520s, from Latin extenuatus, past participle of extenuare "lessen, make small, reduce, diminish," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + tenuare "make thin," from tenuis "thin" (see tenet). Related: Extenuated; extenuating. Extenuating circumstances attested from 1660s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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