[ pahr-dn ]
See synonyms for: pardonpardonedpardoningpardonable on

  1. kind indulgence, as in forgiveness of an offense or discourtesy or in tolerance of a distraction or inconvenience: I beg your pardon, but which way is Spruce Street?

  2. Law.

    • a release from the penalty of an offense; a remission of penalty, as by a governor.

    • the document by which such remission is declared.

  1. forgiveness of a serious offense or offender.

  2. Obsolete. a papal indulgence.

verb (used with object)
  1. to make courteous allowance for or to excuse:Pardon me, madam.

  2. to release (a person) from liability for an offense.

  1. to remit the penalty of (an offense): The governor will not pardon your crime.

  1. (used, with rising inflection, as an elliptical form of I beg your pardon, as when asking a speaker to repeat something not clearly heard or understood.)

Origin of pardon

First recorded in 1300–50; (noun) Middle English pardoun(e), from Old French, Middle French pardon, pardun, perdun (French pardon ), from Medieval Latin perdōnum ; (verb) Middle English pardonen, perdonen, from Anglo-French, Old French pardoner, perduner (French pardonner), from Medieval Latin perdōnāre “to give freely, overlook,” equivalent to Latin intensive prefix per- per- + dōnāre “to give,” see donation

synonym study For pardon

3. Pardon, amnesty, reprieve are nouns referring to the cancellation, or delay with the possibility of eventual cancellation, of a punishment or penalty assigned for the violation of a military regulation or a civil law; absolution from guilt is not implied, merely a remission of the penalty. A pardon is granted to an individual, often by the action of a government official such as a governor, president, or monarch, and releases the individual from any punishment due for the infraction of the law, as a death sentence, prison term, or fine: to be released from prison with a full pardon. An amnesty is a pardon granted to a group of persons for past offenses against a government; it often includes an assurance of no future prosecution: to grant amnesty to political prisoners; an amnesty period for delinquent taxpayers during which no penalties are assessed. A reprieve is a delay of impending punishment, especially a death sentence; it does not cancel or remit the punishment, it simply delays it, usually for a specific period of time or until a decision can be arrived at as to the possibility of pardon or reduction of sentence: a last-minute reprieve, allowing the filing of an appeal to the Supreme Court. 6. See excuse.

Other words for pardon

Opposites for pardon

Other words from pardon

  • par·don·a·ble, adjective
  • par·don·a·ble·ness, noun
  • par·don·a·bly, adverb
  • par·don·less, adjective
  • non·par·don·ing, adjective
  • un·par·don·a·ble, adjective
  • un·par·don·a·bly, adverb
  • un·par·doned, adjective
  • un·par·don·ing, adjective

Words that may be confused with pardon

Words Nearby pardon Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use pardon in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for pardon


/ (ˈpɑːdən) /

  1. to excuse or forgive (a person) for (an offence, mistake, etc): to pardon someone; to pardon a fault

  1. forgiveness; allowance

    • release from punishment for an offence

    • the warrant granting such release

  1. a Roman Catholic indulgence

sentence substitute
  1. Also: pardon me, I beg your pardon

    • sorry; excuse me

    • what did you say?

Origin of pardon

C13: from Old French, from Medieval Latin perdōnum, from perdōnāre to forgive freely, from Latin per (intensive) + dōnāre to grant

Derived forms of pardon

  • pardonable, adjective
  • pardonably, adverb
  • pardonless, 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

Other Idioms and Phrases with pardon


see beg to differ; excuse me.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.