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See more synonyms for exonerate on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), ex·on·er·at·ed, ex·on·er·at·ing.
  1. to clear, as of an accusation; free from guilt or blame; exculpate: He was exonerated from the accusation of cheating.
  2. to relieve, as from an obligation, duty, or task.
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Origin of exonerate

1515–25; late Middle English < Latin exonerātus (past participle of exonerāre to unburden, discharge), equivalent to ex- ex-1 + oner- (stem of onus) a burden + -ātus -ate1
Related formsex·on·er·a·tion, nounex·on·er·a·tive, adjectiveex·on·er·a·tor, nounun·ex·on·er·at·ed, adjectiveun·ex·on·er·a·tive, adjective
Can be confusedexculpate exonerate inculpate

Synonyms for exonerate

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Synonym study

1. See absolve.

Antonyms for exonerate

1. blame.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for exonerates

acquit, vindicate, pardon, dismiss, absolve, exempt, discharge, justify, exculpate, relieve, whitewash, except, free, sanitize, release, liberate, disburden

Examples from the Web for exonerates

Historical Examples of exonerates

  • I want to get to the truth, and any truth which exonerates you will be very welcome to me.

    The Man Who Knew

    Edgar Wallace

  • I don't see that that exonerates the man who gives up the keys of the sanctuary, as it were.

    The Touchstone

    Edith Wharton

  • The statement at once exonerates the Prince of two faults with which his memory has been taxed, those of cowardice and obstinacy.

  • Carlyle deals with the subject in detail in his "Life of Frederick," and exonerates the King.

  • He commends certain officers as deserving rewards, and exonerates many of the religious from the blame of harassing the Indians.

British Dictionary definitions for exonerates


verb (tr)
  1. to clear or absolve from blame or a criminal charge
  2. to relieve from an obligation or task; exempt
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Derived Formsexoneration, nounexonerative, adjectiveexonerator, noun

Word Origin for exonerate

C16: from Latin exonerāre to free from a burden, from onus a burden
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 exonerates



mid-15c., from Latin exoneratus, past participle of exonerare "remove a burden, discharge, unload," from ex- "off" (see ex-) + onerare "to unload; overload, oppress," from onus (genitive oneris) "burden" (see onus). Related: Exonerated; exonerating.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper