To explain (a fault or an offense) in the hope of being forgiven or understood: He arrived late and excused his tardiness in a flimsy manner. To apologize for (oneself) for an act that could cause offense: She excused herself for being late. To grant pardon to; forgive: We quickly excused the latecomer. To make allowance for; overlook: Readers must excuse the author's youth and inexperience. See Synonyms at forgive. To serve as justification for: Brilliance does not excuse bad manners. To free, as from an obligation or duty; exempt: In my state, physicians and lawyers are excused from jury duty. To give permission to leave; release: The child ate quickly and asked to be excused. An explanation offered to justify or obtain forgiveness. A reason or grounds for excusing: Ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law. The act of excusing. A note explaining an absence. Informal An inferior example: a poor excuse for a poet; a sorry excuse for a car. Excuse me Used to acknowledge and ask forgiveness for an action that could cause offense. Excuse me Used to request that a statement be repeated.