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[ik-sten-yoo-ey-ting] /ɪkˈstɛn yuˌeɪ tɪŋ/

serving to make a fault, offense, etc., appear less serious:
The judge gave him a comparatively mild sentence due to extenuating circumstances.
[ik-sten-yoo-eyt] /ɪkˈstɛn yuˌeɪt/
verb (used with object), extenuated, extenuating.
to represent (a fault, offense, etc.) as less serious:
to extenuate a crime.
to serve to make (a fault, offense, etc.) seem less serious.
to underestimate, underrate, or make light of:
Do not extenuate the difficulties we are in.

verb (transitive)
to represent (an offence, a fault, etc) as being less serious than it appears, as by showing mitigating circumstances
to cause to be or appear less serious; mitigate
to underestimate or make light of


1520s, from Latin extenuatus, past participle of extenuare “lessen, make small, reduce, diminish,” from ex- “out” (see ex-) + tenuare “make thin,” from tenuis “thin” (see tenet). Related: Extenuated; extenuating. Extenuating circumstances attested from 1660s.


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  • Extenuatory

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