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extenuate

[ik-sten-yoo-eyt]
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.
  3. to underestimate, underrate, or make light of: Do not extenuate the difficulties we are in.
  4. Archaic.
    1. to make thin, lean, or emaciated.
    2. to reduce the consistency or density of.
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Origin of extenuate

1375–1425; late Middle English (adj.) < Latin extenuātus, past participle of extenuāre, equivalent to ex- ex-1 + tenuāre to make thin or small; see -ate1
Related formsex·ten·u·at·ing, adjectiveex·ten·u·a·tive, adjectiveex·ten·u·a·tor, nounnon·ex·ten·u·a·tive, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

palliateminimizereducesoftenexcusequalifydecreasediminishdownplaymoderatejustify

Examples from the Web for extenuated

Historical Examples

  • She neither denied nor extenuated the crime, and she acknowledged it to have been premeditated.

    The Eternal City

    Hall Caine

  • There are things which cannot be extenuated however we may try to palliate them.

  • No defect is extenuated, nor is there any patriotic exaggeration of merits.

    The Philippine Islands

    Ramon Reyes Lala

  • Again, you say I not only extenuated the conduct of the obstructionists, but justified it.

    Lord Randolph Churchill

    Winston Spencer Churchill

  • Weakened, exhausted, extenuated as he is, how can he endure it?

    The Clique of Gold

    Emile Gaboriau


British Dictionary definitions for extenuated

extenuate

verb (tr)
  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
  3. to underestimate or make light of
  4. archaic
    1. to emaciate or weaken
    2. to dilute or thin out
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Derived Formsextenuating, adjectiveextenuation, nounextenuator, nounextenuatory, adjective

Word Origin

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

extenuate

v.

1520s, from Latin extenuatus, past participle of extenuare "lessen, make small, reduce, diminish," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + tenuare "make thin," from tenuis "thin" (see tenet). Related: Extenuated; extenuating. Extenuating circumstances attested from 1660s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper