verb (used with object), ex·on·er·at·ed, ex·on·er·at·ing.

to clear, as of an accusation; free from guilt or blame; exculpate: He was exonerated from the accusation of cheating.
to relieve, as from an obligation, duty, or task.

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

Synonym study

1. See absolve.

Antonyms for exonerate

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

Examples from the Web for exoneration

Contemporary Examples of exoneration

  • Lykos recommended an exoneration and a judge accepted, clearing the way for Rodriguez to collect his compensation.

  • Mollohan portrayed the end of the inquiry as an exoneration and is seeking his 15th term in the House in the November elections.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Holder's Next Headache

    Philip Shenon

    March 15, 2010

Historical Examples of exoneration

British Dictionary definitions for exoneration


verb (tr)

to clear or absolve from blame or a criminal charge
to relieve from an obligation or task; exempt
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 exoneration

1630s, from Latin exonerationem (nominative exoneratio) "an unloading, lightening," noun of action from past participle stem of exonerare (see exonerate).



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper