Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To lessen or appear to lessen the seriousness or extent of (an offense, for example), especially by providing partial excuses.
  • transitive verb To make thin or emaciated.
  • transitive verb To mitigate or lessen.
  • transitive verb To belittle; disparage.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Thin; slender.
  • To make thin, lean, slender, or rare; reduce in thickness or density; draw out; attenuate.
  • To make smaller in degree or appearance; make less blamable in fact or in estimation; lower in importance or degree, as a fault or crime; mitigate; palliate: opposed to aggravate.
  • To detract from, as a person or thing; lessen in honor, estimation, or importance.
  • Synonyms See palliate.
  • To become thin or thinner or more slender; be drawn out or attenuated.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective obsolete Thin; slender.
  • intransitive verb To become thinner; to make excuses; to advance palliating considerations.
  • transitive verb To make thin or slender; to draw out so as to lessen the thickness.
  • transitive verb To lessen; to palliate; to lessen or weaken the force of; to diminish the conception of, as crime, guilt, faults, ills, accusations, etc.; -- opposed to aggravate.
  • transitive verb obsolete To lower or degrade; to detract from.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive To make thin or slender; to draw out so as to lessen the thickness.
  • verb transitive To lessen; to palliate; to lessen or weaken the force of; to diminish the conception of, as crime, guilt, faults, ills, accusations, etc.; -- opposed to aggravate.
  • verb obsolete To lower or degrade; to detract from.

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

  • verb lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or extent of

Etymologies

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

[Latin extenuāre, extenuāt- : ex-, ex- + tenuāre, to make thin (from tenuis, thin; see ten- in Indo-European roots).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin extenuatus, past participle of extenuare ("to make thin, loosen, weaken") from ex ("out") + tenuare ("to make thin"), from tenuis ("thin").

Examples

  • This I neither "extenuate" nor "set down in malice," but merely record the fact.

    The Journal of Negro History, Volume 1, January 1916

  • I would not "set down aught in malice," I would rather "extenuate," yet am I bound in truth to say that

    Autobiography of a female slave,

  • It is true the people at the Cascades had suffered much, and that their wives and children had been murdered before their eyes, but to wreak vengeance on Spencer's unoffending family, who had walked into their settlement under the protection of a friendly alliance, was an unparalleled outrage which nothing can justify or extenuate.

    She Makes Her Mouth Small & Round & Other Stories

  • The false prophets are those who do not present the word of God in its purity, but they dilute and extenuate it with a thousand human words that come from out of their heart.

    Archive 2008-03-01

  • In the mean time, provision was made of many Flambeaux and Torches, not only for the Service of their Light, but to help extenuate those poysonous Particles there gather'd by means of the want of Air.

    The Lining of the Patch-Work Screen

  • There was nothing she would not have done to extenuate her error, and to obviate its ill effect upon

    Camilla

  • In the mean time, provision was made of many Flambeaux and Torches, not only for the Service of their Light, but to help extenuate those poysonous Particles there gather'd by means of the want of Air.

    The Lining of the Patch-Work Screen

  • I can explain (not extenuate) my mistake only by a misprint in Al – Siyúti (p. 554).

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • Mr. Archer, whose criticism of this play is extraordinarily brilliant, does his best to extenuate the stiffness of it.

    Henrik Ibsen

  • Mr. Archer, whose criticism of this play is extraordinarily brilliant, does his best to extenuate the stiffness of it.

    Henrik Ibsen

Comments

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  • In addition, extenuate (adjective) means 1. impoverished; 2. thinned out.

    February 13, 2012