Recuse vs excuse

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Recuse and excuse are two words that are sometimes confused. We will examine the definitions of the words recuse and excuse, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Recuse means to disqualify someone from a legal duty because that person is prejudiced or has a conflict of interest. Someone may be recused through his own decision or someone else’s decision. Judges often recognize when they have a conflict of interest and recuse themselves. Recuse is a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are recuses, recused, recusing, recusal. The word recuse is derived from the Latin word recusare, which means to decline, reject or make an objection to.

Excuse means to release someone from a requirement, to release someone from a duty. Excuse also means to forgive someone for a transgression or minimize the blame. Excuse is a transitive verb, related words are excuses, excused, excusing. Excuse is also used as a noun. The term is derived from the Latin word excusare which means to decline, refuse or release from blame.


President Donald Trump harshly criticized his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for recusing himself from the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, indicating that he regretted the choice. (The Florida Times-Union)

Fifty-eight House Republicans signed a letter calling for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to recuse herself from the upcoming travel ban case due to her comments about President Trump during the election. (The Washington Examiner)

The council voted at its May 23 meeting not to excuse Clark Campbell’s absence — even though it has no policy or even a precedent for doing that. (The Southern Pines Pilot)

The 2015 law says that magistrates excused on religious grounds would not marry opposite-sex or same-sex couples and that the state would make an official available to perform marriages at least 10 hours a week in every county. (The Asheville Citizen-Times)