Meaning of “excuse” in the English Dictionary

"excuse" in British English

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excuseverb [ T ]

uk /ɪkˈskjuːz/ us /ɪkˈskjuːz/

B1 to forgive someone:

Please excuse me for arriving late - the bus was delayed.
Nothing can excuse that sort of behaviour.
No amount of financial recompense can excuse the way in which the company carried out its policy.
We cannot excuse him for these crimes.
I asked the teacher if I could be excused from (= allowed not to do) hockey practice as my knee still hurt.
Please excuse me from (= allow me to miss) the rest of the meeting - I've just received a phone call that requires my immediate attention.
excuse me

A1 a polite way of attracting someone's attention, especially of someone you do not know:

Excuse me, does this bus go to Oxford Street?

used to politely ask someone to move so that you can walk past them:

Excuse me, can I just get past?

used to tell someone politely that you are leaving:

Excuse me a moment, I'll be with you shortly.

A2 used to say sorry for something you have done by accident:

Did I take your seat? Do excuse me.

said before disagreeing with someone:

Excuse me but aren't you forgetting something?

US UK pardon?, I beg your pardon? used to politely ask someone to repeat something they have said because you have not heard it

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excusenoun [ C ]

uk /ɪkˈskjuːs/ us /ɪkˈskjuːs/

B1 a reason that you give to explain why you did something wrong:

He'd better have a good excuse for being late.
I've never known him to miss a meeting - I'm sure he'll have an excuse.
There's no excuse for that sort of behaviour.

B1 a false reason that you give to explain why you do something:

[ + to infinitive ] She was just looking for an excuse to call him.
Any excuse for a holiday!
make your excuses

to explain why you cannot be present somewhere:

Please make my excuses at the meeting on Friday.
make excuses

to give false reasons why you cannot do something:

You're always making excuses for not helping me.

More examples

  • When I asked him why he was late, he gave me some excuse about having car trouble.
  • I made up an excuse about having to look after the kids.
  • I don't want to go tonight but I can't think up a good excuse.
  • Whenever I ask him why his essay's late, he just comes out with the same old excuses.
  • You're always making excuses for not helping me.

(Definition of “excuse” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"excuse" in American English

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excuseverb [ T ]

us /ɪkˈskjuz/

excuse verb [ T ] (FORGIVE)

to forgive someone:

Please excuse me for being so late – there was a lot of traffic.
It was hard to excuse him for treating me so badly.
excuse someone from

To excuse someone from an activity is to give that person permission to stop doing it or not do it:

I was excused from jury duty because I had to take care of my sick mother.
excusable
adjective us /ɪkˈskju·zə·bəl/

Considering her difficult childhood, her behavior is excusable.

Idiom(s)

excusenoun [ C ]

us /ɪkˈskjus/

the explanation given for bad behavior, absence, etc.:

You’re always making excuses for not helping with the housework.

(Definition of “excuse” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"excuse" in Business English

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excusenoun [ C ]

uk /ɪkˈskjuːs/ us US UK sick note HR

a letter from a doctor saying that someone is too ill to go to work

(Definition of “excuse” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)