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extenuate (verb) make (a crime, etc.,) appear less serious.

Some times circumstances may extenuate a crime, that is, they may make a crime appear less serious and pardonable to a little extent. For example, a murder or an attack in self defense or to prevent a rape extenuates such a murder or attack; that is, make it appear to some extent, even if to a very little extent, justifiable. The circumstances make us feel that they are to be judged a little less severely. In this sense, such circumstances extenuate the crime. Starvation for days on end extenuates a theft. That is, starvation makes the offense of theft appear less serious.

  • There being no extenuating circumstances like self defense or lack of the intent to cause harm, the judge imposed the maximum punishment on the prisoner.
  • Circumstances may extenuate a wrong doing, but a hero or a great person is one who, in spite of the force of circumstances, would not do any thing wrong, even if forced by the circumstances. They would rather suffer than resort to wrong doing.
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Last Modified : 11-May 2009
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