V2 Vocabulary Building Dictionary



Definition: to diminish the seriousness of a wrong act, and to cause it to be judged less seriously by providing a mitigating excuse for it

Synonyms: assuage, ameliorate, mollify, condone, mitigate

Antonyms: accuse, blame, chide, discipline

Tips: The related adjective extenuating describes something, usually circumstances, that partially excuse and justify an act. To extenuate is to lesson the force of an accusation. Think, "gloss over" or extend innocence through excuses. Extenuate is related to mitigate. Both words have similar Latin origins that mean "to soften or reduce." Both words are used to soften a situation and make it less severe. Extenuate and extenuating almost always refer to lessening an accusation or the judgment and punishment of a bad act, while mitigate and mitigating are not specific to accusation or judgment.

Usage Examples:

When stopped by the police, the commuter tried to extenuate her driving in the bike lane by claiming that many other drivers were also doing the same thing. (excuse, mitigate)

The judge felt that the recent, bizarre circumstances in the woman's life did in fact extenuate her irrational behavior. (assuage, mollify, excuse, mitigate)

You can't judge her behavior without considering the extenuating circumstances that led to her problems. (lessening, excusing) adjective

The extenuating circumstances for my tardiness are that I got stuck in traffic and couldn't find a parking space. (lessening, excusing) adjective

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