[verb ik-skyooz; noun ik-skyoos]

verb (used with object), ex·cused, ex·cus·ing.



    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 formsex·cus·a·ble, adjectiveex·cus·a·ble·ness, nounex·cus·a·bly, adverbex·cus·al, nounex·cuse·less, adjectiveex·cus·er, nounex·cus·ing·ly, adverbex·cus·ive, adjectiveex·cus·ive·ly, adverbnon·ex·cus·a·ble, adjectivenon·ex·cus·a·ble·ness, nounnon·ex·cus·a·bly, adverbpre·ex·cuse, verb (used with object), pre·ex·cused, pre·ex·cus·ing.self-ex·cuse, nounself-ex·cused, adjectiveself-ex·cus·ing, adjectiveun·ex·cus·a·ble, adjectiveun·ex·cus·a·bly, adverbun·ex·cused, adjectiveun·ex·cus·ing, adjective
Can be confusedalibi excuse (see usage note at alibi) (see synonym study at the current entry)

Synonyms for excuse

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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for excuse

Contemporary Examples of excuse

Historical Examples of excuse

  • She took her place at the keyhole, and had an excuse ready for the old woman, if she should come out suddenly.

    Jan of the Windmill

    Juliana Horatia Ewing

  • I have not left him an excuse; and then it is that I display all my courtesy, in order to attain the happy issue of my project.

    Louise de la Valliere

    Alexandre Dumas, Pere

  • But you'll excuse me if I say that I scarcely expected to have the railroad company's field-manager come and tell me about it.

  • There is one excuse for me—I did not then know what love meant.

  • After glancing through the book, I made an excuse to hurry away and inform Her Majesty.

    Two Years in the Forbidden City

    The Princess Der Ling

British Dictionary definitions for excuse


verb (ɪkˈskjuːz) (tr)

to pardon or forgivehe 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 lenientlyto excuse someone's ignorance
to serve as an apology or explanation for; vindicate or justifyher age excuses her behaviour
to exempt from a task, obligation, etcyou are excused making breakfast
to dismiss or allow to leavehe asked them to excuse him
to seek permission for (someone, esp oneself) to leavehe excused himself and left
be excused euphemistic 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, etche gave no excuse for his rudeness
informal an inferior example of something specified; makeshift; substituteshe is a poor excuse for a hostess
the act of excusing
Derived Formsexcusable, adjectiveexcusableness, nounexcusably, adverb

Word Origin for excuse

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

Word Origin and History for 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