[ ik-sten-yoo-eyt ]
See synonyms for: extenuateextenuatingextenuative on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object),ex·ten·u·at·ed, ex·ten·u·at·ing.
  1. to represent (a fault, offense, etc.) as less serious: to extenuate a crime.

  2. to serve to make (a fault, offense, etc.) seem less serious.

  1. to underestimate, underrate, or make light of: Do not extenuate the difficulties we are in.

  2. Archaic.

    • to make thin, lean, or emaciated.

    • to reduce the consistency or density of.

Origin of extenuate

First recorded in 1520–30; from Latin extenuātus, past participle of extenuāre, equivalent to ex- ex-1 + tenuāre “to make thin or small”; see origin at thin;see also -ate1

Other words from extenuate

  • ex·ten·u·at·ing, adjective
  • ex·ten·u·a·tive, adjective
  • ex·ten·u·a·tor, noun
  • non·ex·ten·u·a·tive, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use extenuate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for extenuate


/ (ɪkˈstɛnjʊˌeɪt) /

  1. to represent (an offence, a fault, etc) as being less serious than it appears, as by showing mitigating circumstances

  2. to cause to be or appear less serious; mitigate

  1. to underestimate or make light of

  2. archaic

    • to emaciate or weaken

    • to dilute or thin out

Origin of extenuate

C16: from Latin extenuāre to make thin, from tenuis thin, frail

Derived forms of extenuate

  • extenuating, adjective
  • extenuation, noun
  • extenuator, noun
  • extenuatory, adjective

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