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See also: acquît


Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English aquiten, from Old French aquiter, equivalent to a- +‎ quit. See quit, and compare acquiet.



acquit (third-person singular simple present acquits, present participle acquitting or acquiting, simple past and past participle acquitted or acquited)

  1. To declare or find not guilty; innocent.
    • 1856, Mrs. William Busk, Mediæval Popes, Emperors, Kings, and Crusaders: Or, Germany, Italy and Palestine, from A.D. 1125 to A.D. 1268[1], volume IV, London: Hookham and Sons, OCLC 2480341, page 294:
      The new accusation brought by Urban against Manfred of murdering his sister-in-law's embassador – it may be observed that, tacitly, he acquits him of parricide, fratricide, and nepoticide – requires a little explanation.
  2. (followed by “of”, formerly by “from”) To set free, release or discharge from an obligation, duty, liability, burden, or from an accusation or charge.
    The jury acquitted the prisoner of the charge.
    • 1775, Richard Sheridan, The Duenna
      His poverty, can you acquit him of that?
    • 1837, Thomas Babington Macaulay, “Lord Bacon” in The Edinburgh Review, July 1837
      If he [Bacon] was convicted, it was because it was impossible to acquit him without offering the grossest outrage to justice and common sense.
  3. (obsolete, rare) To pay for; to atone for
  4. To discharge (e.g. a claim or debt); to clear off; to pay off; fulfill.
    • c. 1380s, [Geoffrey Chaucer; William Caxton, editor], The Double Sorow of Troylus to Telle Kyng Pryamus Sone of Troye [...] [Troilus and Criseyde], [Westminster]: Explicit per Caxton, published 1482, OCLC 863541017; republished as William Thynne, editor, The Woorkes of Geffrey Chaucer, Newly Printed, with Diuers Addicions, which were Neuer in Printe before: With the Siege and Destruccion of the Worthy Citee of Thebes, Compiled by Ihon Lidgate, Monke of Berie. As in the Table More Plainly Dooeth Appere, book II, London: Imprinted at London, by Ihon Kyngston, for Ihon Wight, dwellying in Poules Churchyarde, 1561, OCLC 932919585, folio CLXIII, verso, line 1200, column 1:
      Aquite him wel for goddes loue ([quoth] he) []
    • 1640, Thomas Carew, Tasso
      Midst foes (as champion of the faith) he ment / That palme or cypress should his painees acquite.
    • 1836, Edward Everett, Orations I-382
      I admit it to be not so much the duty as the privilege of an American citizen to acquit this obligation to the memory of his fathers with discretion and generosity.
    • 1844, Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Experience” in Essays: second series
      We see young men who owe us a new world, so readily and lavishly they promise, but they never acquit the debt; they die young and dodge the account: or if they live, they lose themselves in the crowd.
  5. (reflexive) To clear oneself.
  6. (reflexive) To bear or conduct oneself; to perform one’s part.
    The soldier acquitted himself well in battle.
    The orator acquitted himself very poorly.
    • November 2 2014, Daniel Taylor, "Sergio Agüero strike wins derby for Manchester City against 10-man United,"
      Van Gaal responded by replacing Adnan Januzaj with Carrick and, in fairness, the emergency centre-half did exceedingly well given that he has not played since May. McNair also acquitted himself well after Rojo was injured sliding into a challenge with Martín Demichelis
    • 1766, Oliver Goldsmith, The vicar of Wakefield, xiv
      Though this was one of the first mercantile transactions of my life, yet I had no doubt about acquitting myself with reputation.
  7. (obsolete) To release, set free, rescue.
  8. (archaic) past participle of acquit


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Derived terms[edit]


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  1. third-person singular past historic of acquérir