The phrase “extenuating circumstances” is a popular idiom used in everyday conversation and writing. Here you will find the definition of the phrase and an explanation on the origin of the phrase. You will also find examples of conversations/statements showing how to properly use the phrase and other ways to say the phrase in a literal sense conveying the same meaning.
Extenuating Circumstances Meaning
The phrase “extenuating circumstances” describes any reason or excuse that someone gives to request that their actions be forgiven.
Origin of this idiomatic expression
The phrase “extenuating circumstances” became widely used during the 1840s. The word extenuating means the ability to make something forgettable. This word is almost always coupled with the word circumstances and the phrase was born. It is especially used in the field of law, often during the sentencing phase, in an attempt to reduce the amount of time given for an offense.
“Extenuating Circumstances” Examples
Examples in Statements
A statement in the local paper.
- “Due to some extenuating circumstances, it appears as if the city’s road construction will not be completed as planned and will take many more months to finish.”
A statement made on the television by local emergency authorities.
- “Due to the extenuating circumstances, the highway will need to be shut down for a few hours while we continue to investigate why the accident happened.”
Examples of Conversations
A conversation between two co-workers.
- Co-worker 1: Do you know why Brian hasn’t been at work in a while? I noticed he was gone and was just concerned.
- Co-worker 2: I heard that due to some extenuating circumstances, he had to take a leave of absence for a while.
A conversation on the phone between two friends.
- Friend 1: Hey, are we still going to catch a movie tonight?
- Friend 2: I don’t think so. Due to some extenuating circumstances, I won’t be able to make it.
More useful examples:
- Unless there are extenuating circumstances, all students must be present on the day of the exam.
- Because of extenuating circumstances, the court acquitted him of the crime.
- He stole the money, but there are extenuating circumstances.
- There were extenuating circumstances and the defendant did not receive a prison sentence.
- If there are extenuating circumstances, you should make prior arrangements with your recitation instructor.
Other Ways to Say “Extenuating Circumstances”
There are other ways that the idiom “extenuating circumstances” can be said to still convey the same meaning.
Things you could say instead include:
- I have other things going on
- I have prior obligations
- I have a lot going on