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[juhs-tuh-fahy] /ˈdʒʌs təˌfaɪ/
verb (used with object), justified, justifying.
to show (an act, claim, statement, etc.) to be just or right:
The end does not always justify the means.
to defend or uphold as warranted or well-grounded:
Don't try to justify his rudeness.
Theology. to declare innocent or guiltless; absolve; acquit.
  1. to make (a line of type) a desired length by spacing the words and letters, especially so that full lines in a column have even margins both on the left and on the right.
  2. to level and square (a strike).
verb (used without object), justified, justifying.
  1. to show a satisfactory reason or excuse for something done.
  2. to qualify as bail or surety.
Printing. (of a line of type) to fit exactly into a desired length.
Origin of justify
1250-1300; Middle English justifien < Old French justifier < Late Latin jūstificāre, equivalent to Latin jūsti- (combining form of jūstus just1) + -ficāre -fy
Related forms
justifier, noun
justifyingly, adverb
half-justified, adjective
prejustify, verb (used with object), prejustified, prejustifying.
rejustify, verb (used with object), rejustified, rejustifying.
unjustified, adjective
well-justified, adjective
1. vindicate; validate. 2. excuse. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for justify
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I will not justify myself, nor explain my actions: I do not love you.

    A Hero of Our Time M. Y. Lermontov
  • How could she justify a neglect which must appear gratuitous, cold-blooded, inexplicable?

    Mary, Mary James Stephens
  • There is only one thing that could justify it, and that is something that I cannot justify.

    Ragged Lady, Complete William Dean Howells
  • I wish to justify myself in your eyes from an imputation that distresses me.'

  • He couldn't plunge her into it again by explanations that would only justify himself.

    Abington Abbey Archibald Marshall
British Dictionary definitions for justify


verb (mainly transitive) -fies, -fying, -fied
(often passive) to prove or see to be just or valid; vindicate: he was certainly justified in taking the money
to show to be reasonable; warrant or substantiate: his behaviour justifies our suspicion
to declare or show to be free from blame or guilt; absolve
  1. to show good reason in court for (some action taken)
  2. to show adequate grounds for doing (that with which a person is charged): to justify a libel
(also intransitive) (printing, computing) to adjust the spaces between words in (a line of type or data) so that it is of the required length or (of a line of type or data) to fit exactly
  1. (Protestant theol) to account or declare righteous by the imputation of Christ's merits to the sinner
  2. (RC theol) to change from sinfulness to righteousness by the transforming effects of grace
(also intransitive) (law) to prove (a person) to have sufficient means to act as surety, etc, or (of a person) to qualify to provide bail or surety
Derived Forms
justifier, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French justifier, from Latin justificāre, from jūstusjust + facere to make
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 justify

c.1300, "to administer justice;" late 14c., "to show (something) to be just or right," from Old French justifiier "submit to court proceedings" (12c.), from Latin iustificare "act justly toward, make just," from iustificus "dealing justly, righteous," from iustus "just" (see just (adj.)) + root of facere "to do" (see factitious). Of circumstances, "to afford justification," from 1630s. Meaning "to make exact" (now largely restricted to typesetting) is from 1550s. Related: Justified; justifying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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