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You have probably encountered the phrase "extenuating circumstances,"
which is one of the more common ways that this word turns up in modern
times. Extenuate was borrowed into English in the late Middle Ages from Latin extenuatus, the past participle of the verb extenuare, which was itself formed by combining ex- and the verb tenuare, meaning "to make thin." In addition to the surviving senses, extenuate once meant "to make light of" and "to make thin or emaciated"; although those senses are now obsolete, the connection to tenuare can be traced somewhat more clearly through them. Extenuate
is today mostly at home in technical and legal contexts, but it
occasionally appears in general writing with what may be a developing
meaning: "to prolong, worsen, or exaggerate." This meaning, which is
likely due to a conflation with extend or accentuate (or both), is not yet fully established.
Examples of EXTENUATE
Ryan's tardiness to work that morning was extenuated by the fact that his first meeting of the day was cancelled.
"If I did any wrong, as I may have done much, I did it in mistaken
love, and in my want of wisdom. I write the exact truth. It would avail
me nothing to extenuate it now."
— Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, 1850
Name That Synonym
Unscramble the letters to create a synonym of extenuate: LTPAAEIL.