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

  • transitive verb To release (a person) from punishment or disfavor for wrongdoing or a fault: synonym: forgive.
  • transitive verb To allow (an offense or fault) to pass without punishment or disfavor.
  • transitive verb To make courteous allowance for; excuse.
  • noun The act of pardoning.
  • noun Exemption of a convicted person from the penalties of an offense or crime by the power of the executor of the laws.
  • noun An official document or warrant declaring such an exemption.
  • noun Allowance or forgiveness for an offense or a discourtesy.
  • noun Roman Catholic Church An indulgence.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • noun Forgiveness of an offender or of his offense or crime; a passing over without punishment; remission of penalty.
  • noun 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.
  • noun The deed or warrant by which such remission is declared.
  • noun A papal indulgence, or remission of the temporal punishment due to sin, usually for a stated time.
  • noun Allowance; excuse.

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

  • noun The act of pardoning; forgiveness, as of an offender, or of an offense; release from penalty; remission of punishment; absolution.
  • noun An official warrant of remission of penalty.
  • noun The state of being forgiven.
  • noun (Law) 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 verb To absolve from the consequences of a fault or the punishment of crime; to free from penalty; -- applied to the offender.
  • transitive verb To remit the penalty of; to suffer to pass without punishment; to forgive; -- applied to offenses.
  • transitive verb To refrain from exacting as a penalty.
  • transitive verb obsolete To give leave (of departure) to.
  • transitive verb forgive me; excuse me; -- a phrase used also to express courteous denial or contradiction, or to request forgiveness for a mild transgression, such as bumping a person while passing.

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

  • noun Forgiveness for an offence.
  • noun law 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.
  • verb transitive To forgive.
  • verb transitive, law To grant an official pardon for a crime; unguilt.
  • interjection Often used when someone does not understand what another person says.

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

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


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

[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; see dō- in Indo-European roots).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word pardon.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.