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[verb ik-skyooz; noun ik-skyoos] /verb ɪkˈskyuz; noun ɪkˈskyus/
verb (used with object), excused, excusing.
to regard or judge with forgiveness or indulgence; pardon or forgive; overlook (a fault, error, etc.):
Excuse his bad manners.
to offer an apology for; seek to remove the blame of:
He excused his absence by saying that he was ill.
to serve as an apology or justification for; justify:
Ignorance of the law excuses no one.
to release from an obligation or duty:
to be excused from jury duty.
to seek or obtain exemption or release for (oneself):
to excuse oneself from a meeting.
to refrain from exacting; remit; dispense with:
to excuse a debt.
to allow (someone) to leave:
If you'll excuse me, I have to make a telephone call.
an explanation offered as a reason for being excused; a plea offered in extenuation of a fault or for release from an obligation, promise, etc.:
His excuse for being late was unacceptable.
a ground or reason for excusing or being excused:
Ignorance is no excuse.
the act of excusing someone or something.
a pretext or subterfuge:
He uses his poor health as an excuse for evading all responsibility.
an inferior or inadequate specimen of something specified:
That coward is barely an excuse for a man. Her latest effort is a poor excuse for a novel.
Excuse me, (used as a polite expression, as when addressing a stranger, when interrupting or disagreeing with someone, or to request repetition of what has just been said.)
Origin of excuse
1175-1225; (v.) Middle English escusen < Old French escuser < Latin excūsāre to put outside, exonerate, equivalent to ex- ex-1 + -cūsāre, derivative of causa cause; (noun) Middle English escuse < Old French, derivative of escuser; modern spelling with ex- on the model of ex-1
Related forms
excusable, adjective
excusableness, noun
excusably, adverb
excusal, noun
excuseless, adjective
excuser, noun
excusingly, adverb
excusive, adjective
excusively, adverb
nonexcusable, adjective
nonexcusableness, noun
nonexcusably, adverb
preexcuse, verb (used with object), preexcused, preexcusing.
self-excuse, noun
self-excused, adjective
self-excusing, adjective
unexcusable, adjective
unexcusably, adverb
unexcused, adjective
unexcusing, adjective
Can be confused
alibi, excuse (see usage note at alibi; see synonym study at the current entry)
1. Excuse, forgive, pardon imply being lenient or giving up the wish to punish. Excuse means to overlook some (usually) slight offense: to excuse bad manners. Forgive is applied to excusing more serious offenses: to forgive and forget. Pardon usually applies to a specific act of lenience or mercy by an official or superior: The governor was asked to pardon the condemned criminal. 3. extenuate, palliate. 4. free. 8. justification. Excuse, apology both imply an explanation of some failure or failing. Excuse implies a desire to avoid punishment or rebuke. Apology usually implies acknowledgment that one has been in the wrong. 11. pretense, evasion, makeshift. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for self-excuse
Historical Examples
  • "He's an old friend of Van der Welcke's," said Constance, almost in self-excuse.

    Small Souls Louis Couperus
  • "There's no one else for me to think of," she explained, in self-excuse.

  • "I didn't expect you to be here as Herbert Strange," she said, as though in self-excuse.

    The Wild Olive Basil King
  • Does not the man at times conceal himself to the God, by self-deception, self-excuse, by lying to his higher nature?

    Homer's Odyssey Denton J. Snider
  • "No one's likely to come in here till I get back," Frederik told himself, in self-excuse for his cowardice.

  • It was self-accusation, self-excuse, and the sobs seemed to come in answer to self-reproaches.

    Blindfolded Earle Ashley Walcott
  • "There's Mrs. Connell down there, that I ought to go and see; she's always complaining," he said to himself, in self-excuse.

    The Argosy Various
  • "I hardly know the girl," she pleaded in self-excuse to her injured conscience.

  • But he was ashamed to do so, for he felt it was only a phrase of self-excuse, designed to allay the qualms of conscience.

    Tales of Two Countries Alexander Kielland
  • "I begged Hito that he let me be the one to bring thy food," said Wardo, and spoke as one in self-excuse.

    Nicanor - Teller of Tales C. Bryson Taylor
British Dictionary definitions for self-excuse


verb (transitive) (ɪkˈskjuːz)
to pardon or forgive: he always excuses her unpunctuality
to seek pardon or exemption for (a person, esp oneself): to excuse oneself for one's mistakes
to make allowances for; judge leniently: to excuse someone's ignorance
to serve as an apology or explanation for; vindicate or justify: her age excuses her behaviour
to exempt from a task, obligation, etc: you are excused making breakfast
to dismiss or allow to leave: he asked them to excuse him
to seek permission for (someone, esp oneself) to leave: he excused himself and left
(euphemistic) be excused, to go to the lavatory
excuse me!, an expression used to catch someone's attention or to apologize for an interruption, disagreement, or social indiscretion
noun (ɪkˈskjuːs)
an explanation offered in defence of some fault or offensive behaviour or as a reason for not fulfilling an obligation, etc: he gave no excuse for his rudeness
(informal) an inferior example of something specified; makeshift; substitute: she is a poor excuse for a hostess
the act of excusing
Derived Forms
excusable, adjective
excusableness, noun
excusably, adverb
Word Origin
C13: from Latin excusāre, from ex-1 + -cūsare, from causa cause, accusation
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 self-excuse



early 13c., "attempt to clear (someone) from blame," from Old French escuser (12c., Modern French excuser) "apologize, make excuses; pardon, exonerate," from Latin excusare "excuse, make an excuse for, release from a charge," from ex- "out, away" (see ex-) + causa "accusation, legal action" (see cause).

Meaning "to obtain exemption or release" is from mid-15c.; that of "to accept another's plea of excuse" is from early 14c. Excuse me as a mild apology or statement of polite disagreement is from c.1600.



late 14c., "action of offering an apology," from Old French excuse, from excuser (see excuse (v.)). The sense of "that serves as a reason for being excused" is recorded from late 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for self-excuse



A version or example of: He's a rotten excuse for a lawyer (1940s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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