From Middle Englishaquī̆ten(“to give in return; to pay, repay; to redeem (a pledge, security), to make good (a promise); to make amends; to relieve of an obligation; to acquit, clear of a charge; to free; to deprive of; to do one's part, acquit oneself; to act, behave (in a certain way)”), from Old Frenchaquiter(“to act, do”) and Medieval Latinacquitāre(“to settle a debt”), from ad-(“prefix meaning ‘to’”) + quitare(“to free”), equivalent to a- + quit. Seequit and compare acquiet.
1619, Samuel Hieron, “[The Back-parts of Iehovah.] The Fourth Sermon.”, in The Sermons of Master Samvel Hieron,[…], London: Printed by Iohn Legatt, published 1620, OCLC863546051, page 188:
[W]hen God ſaith of himſelfe, that he is one who acquiting will not acquite the wicked, his meaning is, that whatſoeuer may be ſuppoſed becauſe of his patience, yet he will not fully and finally diſcharge thoſe who goe on ſtill in their vngodly courſes, and preſume vpon his Mercy, without repentance.
But gently could his passion entertaine, / Though she Love's princesse, he a lowly swaine. / First of his bold intrusion she acquites him, / Then to her service (happy Boy!) admits him, / And, like another Love, with bow and quiver fits him.
But I do not pretend that my protestations should acquit me: I rest my innocence on a plain and simple explanation of the facts which have been adduced against me; and I hope the character I have always borne will incline my judges to a favourable interpretation, where any circumstance appears doubtful or suspicious.
If he [Francis Bacon] was convicted, it was because it was impossible to acquit him without offering the grossest outrage to justice and common sense.
1856, Mrs. William Busk, “Manfred”, in Mediæval Popes, Emperors, Kings, and Crusaders: Or, Germany, Italy and Palestine, from A.D. 1125 to A.D. 1268, volume IV, London: Hookham and Sons,[…], OCLC2480341, page 294:
The new accusation brought by Urban [Pope Urban IV] 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.
1576, George Whetstone, “The Castle of Delight:[…]”, in The Rocke of Regard, Diuided into Foure Parts. [...], London: […] Robert Waley, OCLC837515946; republished in J[ohn] P[ayne] Collier, editor, The Rocke of Regard, Diuided into Foure Parts. [...] (Illustrations of Early English Poetry; vol. 2, no. 2), London: Privately printed, [1867?], OCLC706027473, page 48:
Although it pleaſed you this other night (occasion by me unhappily miniſtred) to intertaine time with an ordinarie profeſſion of love, yet (maſter Rinaldo) you doe both me and your ſelfe great injurie to continue your needleſſe labour with ſuch importunancie to me. […] Thus muche (being your firſte attempt) I thought it good to anſwere, leaſt you ſhould think with needleſſe niceneſſe I acquited your courteſies.
[Et ſi feoffati illi warrantum, vel medium not habeant.] That is to say, if they have neither one to warrant by ſpeciall graunt, nor any meſne by tenure which ought to acquit them, tunc omnes illi feoffati pro portione ſua contribuant, &c.
[…] 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. […] [I]t is not the less true, that there are many ties, which ought to bind our feelings to the land of our fathers. It is characterstic of a magnanimous people to do justice to the merits of every other nation; especially of a nation with whom we have been at variance and are now in amity; and most especially of a nation of common blood.
Jerome. Object to Antonio? I have said it; his poverty, can you acquit him of that? / Ferd[inand]. Sir, I own he is not over rich; but he is of as ancient and honourable a family, as any in the kingdom.
This, madam, is a faithful narrative of every event in which we have been concerned together; and if you do not absolutely reject it as false, you will, I hope, acquit me henceforth of cruelty towards Mr. Wickham.
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