A Dictionary of the English Language
                        A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson
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View Scan · View Transcription · from page 63

To Abso'lve. v.a. [absolvo, Lat.]

  1. To clear, to acquit of a crime in a judicial sense.

            Your great goodness, out of holy pity,
    Absolv'd him with an axe.
    Shakespeare's Henry VIII.

    Our visitors, blest in peace, forget their wars,
    Enjoy past dangers, and absolve the stars.

    As he hopes, and gives out, by the influence of his wealth, to be here absolved; in condemning this man, you have an opportunity of belying that general scandal, of redeeming the credit lost by former judgments. Swift's Miscellanies.

  2. To set free from an engagement or promise.

    Compell'd by threats to take that bloody oath,
    And the act ill, I am absolv'd by both.
    Waller's Maid's Trag.

    This command, which must necessarily comprehend the persons of our natural fathers, must mean a duty we owe them, distinct from our obedience to the magistrate, and from which the most absolute power of princes cannot absolve us. Locke.

  3. To pronounce a sin remitted, in the ecclesiastical sense.

    But all is calm in this eternal sleep;
    Here grief forgets to groan, and love to weep;
    Ev'n superstition loses ev'ry fear;
    For God, not man, absolves our frailties here.
    Pope's Eloisa to Abelard.

  4. To finish, to complete.

    If that which is so supposed infinitely distinct from what is now current, is distinct from us by a finite interval, and not infinitely, then that one circulation which preceded it, and must necessarily be like ours, and consequently absolved in the space of twenty-four hours. Hale's Origin of Mankind.

                    What cause
    Mov'd the creator, in his holy rest
    Through all eternity, so late to build
    In chaos; and the work begun, how soon
    Milton's Paradise Lost, b. vii. l. 94.

Sources: Hale, Matthew (49) · Shakespeare's Henry VIII (62) · Locke, John (269) · Milton, John (449) · Pope, Alexander (393) · Swift, Jonathan (306) · Tickell, Thomas (12) · Waller, Edmund (63)

Attributes: Latin (690) · Verb Active (289)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Absolve." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: January 28, 2014. https://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/absolve/.

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