Does the blood on the kitchen knife not match that on the accused’s clothes? That’s exculpatory evidence: anything that clears someone or something of guilt or blame is exculpatory.

Exculpatory comes from the Latin word exculpat, meaning “freed from blame.” The verb exculpate means to free from guilt or blame. Both words are used most often in a legal or technical sense rather than in everyday conversation — unless of course you’re trying to show off.

Definitions of exculpatory
  1. adjective

    clearing of guilt or blame


    absolvitory, exonerative, forgiving

    providing absolution

    partially excusing or justifying
    justificative, justificatory, vindicatory

    providing justification
    clean-handed, guiltless, innocent

    free from evil or guilt
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    inculpative, inculpatory

    causing blame to be imputed to
    accusative, accusatory, accusing, accusive

    containing or expressing accusation
    comminatory, denunciative, denunciatory

    containing warning of punishment
    condemnatory, condemning

    containing or imposing condemnation or censure
    criminative, criminatory, incriminating, incriminatory

    charging or suggestive of guilt or blame
    damnatory, damning

    threatening with damnation
    recriminative, recriminatory

    countering one charge with another

    responsible for or chargeable with a reprehensible act
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