late 14c., "administration of justice," from Late Latin iustificationem (nominative iustificatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of iustificare "act justly toward; make just" (see justify). Meaning "action of justifying, showing something to be just or right" is from late 15c. Theological sense "act by which the soul is reconciled to God" is from 1520s. Meaning "act of adjusting or making exact" in typography is from 1670s.
updated on December 24, 2020