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English definition of “extenuate”

extenuate

verb [T] uk   /ɪkˈsten.ju.eɪt/ formal us  
to cause a wrong act to be judged less seriously by giving reasons for it: He was unable to say anything that might have extenuated his behaviour.
extenuating
adjective [before noun] uk   /-eɪ.tɪŋ/ us    /-eɪ.t̬ɪŋ/ formal
She was found guilty of theft, but because of extenuating circumstances (= a situation which made her crime seem less serious) was not sent to prison.
extenuation
noun [U] uk   /ɪkˌsten.juˈeɪ.ʃən/ formal us  
Her plea of ignorance of the law in extenuation of (= as an excuse for) her crime was not accepted.
(Definition of extenuate from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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