Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Vindicate


The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is vindicate. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Vindicate means “to show that someone is not guilty.” It can also mean “to show that someone or something that has been criticized or doubted is correct, true, or reasonable.”

// In light of the new evidence, we believe that our client will be completely vindicated.

// Recent volcanic activity on Jupiter’s moon Io vindicates astronomers’ theories about the geologic makeup of that celestial body.

VINDICATE in Context

“Describing Webb Pierce’s ‘There Stands the Glass’ (1953), [Bob] Dylan extrapolates the sad song into something remorselessly bleak: The song’s narrator ‘must justify and vindicate his entire being, he’s been betrayed by politicians back home, forsaken and double crossed.’” — Elizabeth Nelson, The Washington Post, 31 Oct. 2022

Did You Know?

It’s hard not to marvel at the rich history of vindicateVindicate, which has been used in English since at least the mid-16th century, comes from a form of the Latin verb vindicare, meaning “to set free, avenge, or lay claim to.” Vindicare, in turn, comes from vindex, a noun meaning “claimant” or “avenger.” Truly, vindex has proven to be an incredible hulk of a word progenitor over the centuries. Other descendants of this “avenger” assembled in English include avenge itself, revengevengeancevendetta, and vindictive.

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