Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for February 5, 2021 is:

absolve • ub-ZAHLV  • verb

1 : to set (someone) free from an obligation or the consequences of guilt

2 : to pardon or forgive a sin usually as a sacrament


“Hugh almost blurted out his belief that the Bishop would be sure to absolve Bran, for his contrition was beyond doubting and the greatest guilt lay with Guy, but he stopped just in time, knowing that Bran blamed no one but himself.” — Sharon Kay Penman, The Reckoning, 1991

“If descendants cannot be found, the church is hopeful that courts will legally absolve them from having to do so, and the land transfer can move forward.” — Kenneth C. Crowe II, The Albany (New York) Times Union, 26 Oct. 2020

Did you know?

The act of absolving can be seen as releasing someone from blame or sin, or “loosening” the hold that responsibility has on a person, which provides a hint about the word’s origins. Absolve was adopted into Middle English in the 15th century from the Latin verb absolvere, formed by combining the prefix ab- (“from, away, off”) with solvere, meaning “to loosen.” Absolve also once had additional senses of “to finish or accomplish” and “to resolve or explain,” but these are now obsolete. Solvere is also the ancestor of the English words solve, dissolve, resolve, solvent, and solution.

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