Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
November 7th, 2015
Episode 373 of 827 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 07, 2015 is: absolve \ub-ZAHLV\ verb 1 : to set free from an obligation or the consequences of guilt 2 : to remit (a sin) by absolution Examples: "A week of staying home from work, absolved of all household duties, waited on hand and foot by your significant otherit's not a dream. It's what happens when you have surgery on your foot and can't walk on it." Liz Soares, CentralMaine.com, 4 Oct. 2015 "The amnesty program absolves delinquent taxpayers of interest and fines on back taxes owed to the state, as long as those taxes are paid in full." Josh Arnett, The McPherson (Kansas) Sentinel, 6 Oct. 2015 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.