from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To release (a person) from punishment; exempt from penalty: a convicted criminal who was pardoned by the governor.
  • transitive v. To let (an offense) pass without punishment.
  • transitive v. To make courteous allowance for; excuse: Pardon me, I'm in a hurry. See Synonyms at forgive.
  • n. The act of pardoning.
  • n. Law Exemption of a convicted person from the penalties of an offense or crime by the power of the executor of the laws.
  • n. Law An official document or warrant declaring such an exemption.
  • n. Allowance or forgiveness for an offense or a discourtesy: begged the host's pardon for leaving early.
  • n. Roman Catholic Church An indulgence.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Forgiveness for an offence.
  • n. An order that releases a convicted criminal without further punishment, prevents future punishment, or (in some jurisdictions) removes an offence from a person's criminal record, as if it had never been committed.
  • v. To forgive.
  • v. To grant an official pardon for a crime; unguilt.
  • interj. Often used when someone does not understand what another person says.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of pardoning; forgiveness, as of an offender, or of an offense; release from penalty; remission of punishment; absolution.
  • n. An official warrant of remission of penalty.
  • n. The state of being forgiven.
  • n. A release, by a sovereign, or officer having jurisdiction, from the penalties of an offense, being distinguished from amnesty, which is a general obliteration and canceling of a particular line of past offenses.
  • transitive v. To absolve from the consequences of a fault or the punishment of crime; to free from penalty; -- applied to the offender.
  • transitive v. To remit the penalty of; to suffer to pass without punishment; to forgive; -- applied to offenses.
  • transitive v. To refrain from exacting as a penalty.
  • transitive v. To give leave (of departure) to.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To remit the penalty or punishment due on account of (an offense); pass by or leave without penalty, resentment, or blame; forgive; overlook.
  • To absolve (an offender) from liability for an offense or crime committed; release (a person) from the punishment or penalty due on account of some fault or offense.
  • To excuse; indulge; especially, to excuse from doing something.
  • Synonyms Pardon, Forgive. These words are often synonymous. Strictly, pardon expresses the act of an official or a superior, remitting all or the remainder of the punishment that belongs to an offense: as, the queen or the governor pardons a convict before the expiration of his sentence. Forgive refers especially to the feelings; it means that one not only resolves to overlook the offense and reestablishes amicable relations with the offender, but gives up all ill feeling against him. See pardon, n.
  • n. Forgiveness of an offender or of his offense or crime; a passing over without punishment; remission of penalty.
  • n. In law, a free remission of the legal consequences of guilt or of some part of them; an act of grace proceeding from the power charged with the execution of the laws, which exempts the individual on whom it is bestowed from the punishment the law prescribes for a crime he has committed. Marshall.
  • n. The deed or warrant by which such remission is declared.
  • n. A papal indulgence, or remission of the temporal punishment due to sin, usually for a stated time.
  • n. Allowance; excuse.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. accept an excuse for
  • v. grant a pardon to
  • n. the formal act of liberating someone
  • n. the act of excusing a mistake or offense
  • n. a warrant granting release from punishment for an offense


Middle English pardonen, from Old French pardoner, from Vulgar Latin *perdōnāre, to give wholeheartedly : Latin per-, intensive pref.; see per- + Latin dōnāre, to present, forgive (from dōnum, gift).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English pardonen from Old French pardoner from Vulgar Latin *perdonare, from per- + donare, a loan-translation of a Germanic word represented by Frankish *firgeban (“to forgive, give up completely”), from fir- + geban. Akin to Old High German fargeban, firgeban ("to forgive"), Old English forġiefan ("to forgive"). More at forgive. (Wiktionary)


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