English

Definition of excuse noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

      

    excuse

     noun
    noun
    BrE BrE//ɪkˈskjuːs//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ɪkˈskjuːs//
     
     
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  1. 1  a reason, either true or invented, that you give to explain or defend your behaviour Late again! What's your excuse this time? excuse (for something) There's no excuse for such behaviour. excuse (for doing something) His excuse for forgetting her birthday was that he had lost his diary. You don't have to make excuses for her (= try to think of reasons for her behaviour). It's late. I'm afraid I'll have to make my excuses (= say I'm sorry, give my reasons and leave). Synonymsreasonexplanation grounds basis excuse motive justification pretextThese are all words for a cause or an explanation for something that has happened or that somebody has done.reason a cause or an explanation for something that has happened or that somebody has done; a fact that makes it right or fair to do something:He said no but he didn’t give a reason.explanation a statement, fact or situation that tells you why something has happened; a reason given for something:The most likely explanation is that his plane was delayed. She left the room abruptly without explanation.grounds (rather formal) a good or true reason for saying, doing or believing something:You have no grounds for complaint.basis (rather formal) the reason why people take a particular action:On what basis will this decision be made?excuse a reason, either true or invented, that you give to explain or defend your behaviour; a good reason that you give for doing something that you want to do for other reasons:Late again! What’s your excuse this time? It gave me an excuse to take the car.motive a reason that explains somebody’s behaviour:There seemed to be no motive for the murder.justification (rather formal) a good reason why something exists or is done:I can see no possible justification for any further tax increases.grounds or justification?Justification is used to talk about finding or understanding reasons for actions, or trying to explain why it is a good idea to do something. It is often used with words like little, no, some, every, without, and not any. Grounds is used more for talking about reasons that already exist, or that have already been decided, for example by law: moral/​economic grounds.pretext (rather formal) a false reason that you give for doing something, usually something bad, in order to hide the real reason:He left the party early on the pretext of having to work.Patterns (a/​an) reason/​explanation/​grounds/​basis/​excuse/​motive/​justification/​pretext for something the reason/​motive behind something on the grounds/​basis/​pretext of/​that… (a) good/​valid reason/​explanation/​grounds/​excuse/​motive/​justification
  2. 2  a good reason that you give for doing something that you want to do for other reasons excuse (for something/for doing something) It's just an excuse for a party. excuse (to do something) It gave me an excuse to take the car.
  3. 3a very bad example of something Why get involved with that pathetic excuse for a human being?
  4. 4(North American English) a note written by a parent or doctor to explain why a student cannot go to school or somebody cannot go to work
  5. Word Origin Middle English: from Old French escuser (verb), from Latin excusare ‘to free from blame’, from ex- ‘out’ + causa ‘accusation, cause’.Extra examples Delivering the stuff for Rodney gave me an excuse to take the car. Don’t let perfectionism become an excuse for never getting started. He became moody and unreasonable, flailing out at Katherine at the slightest excuse. He had no excuse for being so late. He invented a pathetic excuse about losing his watch. He made up a rather lame excuse for the work being late. He made up some stupid excuse to the teachers. He’s run out of excuses for not cleaning his room. Her mother’s illness provided her with an excuse to stay at home. I don’t want to hear any more excuses. It’s late. I’m afraid I’ll have to make my excuses. Justin mumbled some excuse and left. She had to find a valid excuse for leaving the room. She made some feeble excuse about the car having broken down. She seized on every excuse to avoid doing the work. She’s a pitiful excuse for an actress. The children provided a convenient excuse for missing the party. The political crisis is being used as an excuse to dock people’s pay. What possible excuse could he have? You don’t have to make excuses for her. a built-in excuse for failure a sorry excuse for a man an acceptable excuse for missing school Late again! What’s your excuse this time?
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: excuse