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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English justifien, from Old French justifier, from Late Latin justificare (make just), from Latin justus, iustus (just) + ficare (make), from facere, equivalent to just +‎ -ify.


  • IPA(key): /ˈd͡ʒʌstɪfaɪ/
  • Hyphenation: jus‧ti‧fy
  • (file)


justify (third-person singular simple present justifies, present participle justifying, simple past and past participle justified)

  1. (transitive) To provide an acceptable explanation for.
    How can you justify spending so much money on clothes?
    Paying too much for car insurance is not justified.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book I”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC:
      What in me is dark
      Illumine, what is low raise and support;
      That to the highth of this great Argument
      I may assert th’ Eternal Providence,
      And justifie the wayes of God to men.
    • 2023 August 23, Anthony Lambert, “Expanding the family and disabled markets”, in RAIL, number 990, page 53:
      Like all public expenditure, Access for All has to compete with other deserving demands. For example, how can you justify spending a couple of million pounds installing lifts at a station such as Achnasheen, which has 2,420 annual users, when that sum would buy a life-saving machine for a hospital? How do you decide on a minimum number of annual station users to justify that expenditure?
  2. (transitive) To be a good, acceptable reason for; warrant.
    Nothing can justify your rude behaviour last night.
    • 1861, Edward Everett, The Great Issues Now Before the Country, An oration delivered at the New York Academy of Music, July 4, 1861[1], New York: James G. Gregory, page 8:
      Unless the oppression is so extreme as to justify revolution, it would not justify the evil of breaking up a government, under an abstract constitutional right to do so.
  3. (transitive, typography) To arrange (text) on a page or a computer screen such that the left and right ends of all lines within paragraphs are aligned.
    The text will look better justified.
  4. (transitive) To absolve, and declare to be free of blame or sin.
  5. (reflexive) To give reasons for one’s actions; to make an argument to prove that one is in the right.
    She felt no need to justify herself for deciding not to invite him.
  6. (transitive) To prove; to ratify; to confirm.
  7. (law) To show (a person) to have had a sufficient legal reason for an act that has been made the subject of a charge or accusation.
  8. (law) To qualify (oneself) as a surety by taking oath to the ownership of sufficient property.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


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