extenuate (v.)

1520s, from Latin extenuatus, past participle of extenuare "lessen, make small, reduce, diminish, detract from," from ex "out" (see ex-) + tenuare "make thin," from tenuis "thin," from PIE root *ten- "to stretch." Used over the years in a variety of literal and figurative senses in English. Related: Extenuated; extenuating. Extenuating circumstances (1660s) are those which lessen the magnitude of guilt (opposed to aggravating).

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