The Meaning of Justified: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of justified? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word justified, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word justified mean?

According to Dictionary and Merriam-Webster Unabridged English Dictionary, the word justified is an adjective that is usually used to mean to be just or right, as well as warranted. This is commonly used to refer to someone’s actions, particularly if there is a moral dispute. When we hear about Robin Hood stealing from the rich to give to the poor, many will feel his actions are justified. This term can also be used in the printing industry to refer to the spacing of text that is aligned with one or both margins. If text is right justified, it is aligned along the right-hand margin. If it is left justified, the text is aligned along the left margin. If it is simply justified, it is aligned along both margins. This word is used in both American English and British English.

There are also many different languages that use words that mean justified. You may notice that many of these words are very similar to the word justified. This is likely because both the word justified and these other translations have a common origin. This usually happens with languages of a similar origin, like the romance languages. This list of translations for the word justified is provided by Word Sense.

  • Catalan: justificat‎ (masc.)
  • German: gerechtfertigt‎
  • Spanish: justificado‎
  • French: justifié‎
  • Finnish: perusteltu‎, aiheellinen‎
  • Italian: giustificato‎

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word justified?

There are a plethora of different words that one can use in place of the word justified. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another word or phrase. Synonyms are very useful to know if you are trying to avoid repeating yourself or if you are trying to expand your vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word justified is provided by Thesaurus. 

  • excuse
  • validate
  • countenance
  • speak in favor
  • crawl
  • do justice to
  • brief
  • apologize for
  • substantiate
  • uphold
  • warrant
  • palliate
  • be answerable for
  • assert
  • exonerate
  • vindicate
  • plead
  • explain
  • alibi
  • rebut
  • stand up for
  • argue for
  • support
  • rationalize
  • sustain
  • legalize
  • establish
  • make allowances
  • clear
  • condone
  • exculpate
  • cop a plea
  • contend
  • show cause
  • make good
  • square
  • favor
  • pardon
  • absolve
  • defend
  • confirm
  • approve
  • answer for
  • acquit
  • verify
  • legitimize
  • advocate
  • maintain
  • bear out
  • claim

There are also numerous different words that mean the opposite of the word justified. These are known as antonyms. Antonyms are also very useful to know if you are trying to expand your vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word justified is also provided by Thesaurus.

  • unfounded
  • baseless
  • unsupportable
  • indefensible
  • supererogatory
  • bottomless
  • needless
  • causeless
  • unmerited
  • assumed
  • superfluous
  • unwarranted
  • unessential
  • inessential
  • unnecessary
  • uncalled-for
  • gratuitous
  • unprovoked
  • groundless
  • reasonless
  • wanton
  • unjustified 

What is the origin of the word justified?

According to Etymonline, the word justified has been used since the 1580s as the past participle adjective form of the verb justify. The word justify has been used since the year 1300 to mean to administer justice, and since the late 14th century to mena to show that something is just or right. This word comes from the Old French justifier, which means to submit to court proceedings. The Old French justifier has been used since the 12th century. This term comes from the Late Latin iustificare which means to act justly toward to ro make just. This comes from the Latin iustificus or Latin justificare, which means righteous or just, from the Latin iustus or justus meaning just. This was then combined with the root facere or ficāre which means to make or do, which comes from the Proto-Indo-European root dhe meaning to set or put. Related words include the adverb justifiably, justified, justifier, and justifying, as well as justifiable, justification and unjustified.

How can the word justified be used in a sentence?

The word justified can be used in many different circumstances to describe things that are considered right, particularly when there is a debate surrounding it. In this first example, Julie is in trouble for sneaking out of the house. 

Julie: But I had a good reason–

Dad: Don’t try to justify this.

Julie: I am going to try and justify it, because my actions are justified. Lainey and Elise were stuck at some creep’s frat house. He drove them there and they had no way to get home; an Uber was over $100 to get back. I wasn’t just going to leave my friends there and let something happen to them. It was a rescue mission.

Here, Julie believed that her actions were in the right because she was not sneaking out to go to a party or to disobey her parents, but to save her friends from a scary situation. In this next example, Ray is in trouble with the mall cops for stealing a stuffed animal.

Cop: What’s a teenager like you doing stealing a stuffed animal?

Ray: It’s stupid.

Cop: No, please. We would love to know how you think this is justified.

Ray: Everyone in my little sister’s class has that stuffed animal. There’s no way my family could ever afford to get it for her. 

Overall, the word justified is an adjective that is used to describe something that is right or correct. This is often used to describe a person’s actions, partially if there is a debate about the morality of some action. This can also be used in the printing industry to describe the alignment of text along a margin. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/unjustified
  2. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/justified
  3. https://www.wordsense.eu/justified/
  4. https://www.etymonline.com/word/justified#etymonline_v_42767
  5. https://www.etymonline.com/word/justify?ref=etymonline_crossreference
  6. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/justified
  7. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/justified