exonerate • \ig-ZAH-nuh-rayt\ • verb
1 : to relieve of a responsibility, obligation, or hardship
2 : to clear from accusation or blame
Dwight was exonerated for the crime of taking the money after it was found that his fingerprints did not match those on the cashbox.
Did you know?
We won’t blame you if you don’t know the origins of today’s word. “Exonerate” derives via Middle English from the past participle of the Latin verb “exonerare,” meaning “to unburden,” formed by combining the prefix “ex-” with “onus,” meaning “load” or “burden.” (“Onus” itself lives on with that meaning in English.) In its earliest uses (dating from the 16th century), “exonerate” was used in the context of physical burdens — a ship, for example, could be exonerated of its cargo when it was unloaded. Later it was used in reference to any kind of burden, until a more specific sense developed, meaning “to relieve (someone) of blame.”