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extenuating circumstance

noun, Law.
Usually, extenuating circumstances. a circumstance that renders conduct less serious and thereby serves to reduce the damages to be awarded or the punishment to be imposed.
Origin of extenuating circumstance
First recorded in 1830-40 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for extenuating circumstances
Historical Examples
  • But really, you know, where are the extenuating circumstances?

    A Tangled Tale Lewis Carroll
  • "There may be some extenuating circumstances in your case—but I doubt it," he said.

    The Minister of Evil William Le Queux
  • There were extenuating circumstances about what Lafe Wynn had done.

    Owen Clancy's Happy Trail Burt L. Standish
  • Then he sat down: he had made no mention of extenuating circumstances.

    Fantmas Pierre Souvestre
  • The jury brought in a verdict of guilty with extenuating circumstances.

  • The writer of the essay admits that there may be extenuating circumstances.

    The Bibliotaph Leon H. Vincent
  • I think it was the worst thing I did; yet there were extenuating circumstances.

    The Aspern Papers Henry James
  • But were there not some extenuating circumstances in my favor.

    The Sleuth of St. James's Square Melville Davisson Post
  • But in this case it can be shown that there were extenuating circumstances.

    Little Lost Sister Virginia Brooks
  • They accorded in both her case and that of Lucien extenuating circumstances.

Idioms and Phrases with extenuating circumstances

extenuating circumstances

A situation or condition that provides an excuse for an action, as in Although Nancy missed three crucial rehearsals, there were extenuating circumstances, so she was not dismissed. This expression was originally legal terminology, denoting circumstances that partly excuse a crime and therefore call for less punishment or damages. [ c. 1600 ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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