verb (used with object), jus·ti·fied, jus·ti·fy·ing.

  1. to show (an act, claim, statement, etc.) to be just or right: The end does not always justify the means.
  2. to defend or uphold as warranted or well-grounded: Don’t try to justify his rudeness.
  3. Theology. to declare innocent or guiltless; absolve; acquit.
  4. Printing.
    1. to make (a line of type) a desired length by spacing the words and letters, especially so that full lines in a column have even margins both on the left and on the right.
    2. to level and square (a strike).

verb (used without object), jus·ti·fied, jus·ti·fy·ing.

  1. Law.
    1. to show a satisfactory reason or excuse for something done.
    2. to qualify as bail or surety.
  2. Printing. (of a line of type) to fit exactly into a desired length.

verb -fies, -fying or -fied (mainly tr)

  1. (often passive) to prove or see to be just or valid; vindicatehe was certainly justified in taking the money
  2. to show to be reasonable; warrant or substantiatehis behaviour justifies our suspicion
  3. to declare or show to be free from blame or guilt; absolve
  4. law
    1. to show good reason in court for (some action taken)
    2. to show adequate grounds for doing (that with which a person is charged)to justify a libel
  5. (also intr) printing computing to adjust the spaces between words in (a line of type or data) so that it is of the required length or (of a line of type or data) to fit exactly
    1. Protestant theolto account or declare righteous by the imputation of Christ’s merits to the sinner
    2. RC theolto change from sinfulness to righteousness by the transforming effects of grace
  6. (also intr) law to prove (a person) to have sufficient means to act as surety, etc, or (of a person) to qualify to provide bail or surety

c.1300, “to administer justice;” late 14c., “to show (something) to be just or right,” from Old French justifiier “submit to court proceedings” (12c.), from Latin iustificare “act justly toward, make just,” from iustificus “dealing justly, righteous,” from iustus “just” (see just (adj.)) + root of facere “to do” (see factitious). Of circumstances, “to afford justification,” from 1630s. Meaning “to make exact” (now largely restricted to typesetting) is from 1550s. Related: Justified; justifying.

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