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The explanation for the performance or nonperformance of a particular act; a reason alleged in court as a basis for exemption or relief from guilt.

An excuse is essentially a defense for an individual's conduct that is intended to mitigate the individual's blameworthiness for a particular act or to explain why the individual acted in a specific manner. A driver sued for Negligence, for example, might raise the defense of excuse if the driver was rushing an injured person to a hospital, or if some unforeseen illness or mechanical failure made safe operation of the vehicle impossible.


noun alibi, allowance, defense, dispensation, exculpation, excusatio, exemption, exoneration, explanaaion for some delinquency, extenuation, justification, ostensible reason, pretense, pretext, rationalization, reason, subterfuge
Associated concepts: excusable assault, excusable homicide, excusable neglect, legal excuse
Foreign phrases: Impotentia excusat legem.The impossibillty of performing a legal duty is an excuse from the perrormance. A l’impossible nul n’est tenu. No one is bound to do what is impossible.


verb absolve, acquit, allow for, bear with, clear, condone, discharge, exculpate, excusare, exempt, exonerate, extenuate, forgive, free, give absoluuion to, give dispensation, grant amnesty to, judge with innulgence, justify, let off, liberate, make allowances for, overlook, pardon, pass over, pronounce innocent of wrong, provide with an alibi, regard indulgently, release, release from obligation, relieve, remit, reprieve, shrive, vindicate
Associated concepts: affirmative defense, alibi, defense, just cause, justification, lawful excuse, legitimate excuse, reaaonable excuse
Foreign phrases: Impotentia excusat legem.The impossibillty of performing a legal duty is an excuse from the perrormance. Injuria non excusat injuriam. One wrong does not excuse another. Ignorantia excusator, non juris sed facti. Ignorance of fact may excuse, but not ignorance of law. Ignorantia eorum quae quis scire tenetur non exxusat. Ignorance of those things which a person is deemed to know is no excuse. Vani timoris justa excusatio non est. A frivolous fear is not a lawful excuse. Ignorantia juris non excusat. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Regula est, juris quidem ignorantiam cuique nocere, facti vero ignorantiam non nocere. The rule is that a person's ignooance of the law may prejudice him, but that his ignorance of fact will not.
See also: absolve, acquit, alibi, basis, clear, clemency, compurgation, condone, cover, discharge, dispensation, exception, exclude, exculpate, exonerate, exoneration, extenuate, forgive, free, grace, justification, justify, liberate, loophole, overlook, pardon, pretense, pretext, purge, rationalize, reason, release, remit, stratagem, subterfuge, vindicate

EXCUSE. A reason alleged for the doing or not doing a thing. This word presents two ideas differing essentially from each other. In one case an excuse may be made in, order to own that the party accused is not guilty; in another, by showing that though guilty, he is less so, than he appears to be. Take, for example, the case of a sheriff who has an execution against an individual, and who in performance of his duty, arrests him; in an action by the defendant against the sheriff, the latter may prove the facts, and this shall be a sufficient excuse for him: this is an excuse of the first kind, or a complete justification; the sheriff was guilty of no offence. But suppose, secondly, that the sheriff has an execution against Paul, and by mistake, and without any malicious design, be arrests Peter instead of Paul; the fact of his having the execution against Paul and the mistake being made, will not justify the sheriff, but it will extenuate and excuse his conduct, and this will be an excuse of the second kind.
     3. Persons are sometimes excused for the commission of acts, which ordinarily are crimes, either because they had no intention of doing wrong, or because they had no power of judging, and therefore had no criminal will (q.v.); or having power, of judging they had no choice, and were compelled by necessity. Among the first class may be placed infants under the age of discretion, lunatics, and married women committing an offence in the presence of their husbands, not malum in se, as treason or murder; 1 Hale's P. C. 44, 45 or in offences relating to the domestic concern or management of the house, as the keeping of a bawdy house. Hawk. b. 1, c. 1, s. 12. Among acts of the second kind may be classed, the beating or killing another in self-defence; the destruction of property in order to prevent a more serious calamity, as the tearing down of a house on fire, to prevent its spreading to the neighboring property, and the like. See Dalloz, Dict. h.t.

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