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[am-nuh-stee] /ˈæm nə sti/
noun, plural amnesties.
a general pardon for offenses, especially political offenses, against a government, often granted before any trial or conviction.
Law. an act of forgiveness for past offenses, especially to a class of persons as a whole.
a forgetting or overlooking of any past offense.
verb (used with object), amnestied, amnestying.
to grant amnesty to; pardon.
Origin of amnesty
1570-80; (< Middle French amnestie) < Greek amnēstía oblivion, equivalent to ámnēst(os) forgetting (a- a-6 + mnēs- remember + -tos verbal adjective suffix) + -ia -y3
1. See pardon. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for amnesty
  • Now the government is working on an amnesty bill aimed at pardoning those jailed for political offences over the past few years.
  • The recording industry plans to announce an amnesty for people who admit to music file sharing and promise to stop.
  • The men, sentenced and convicted, were later released as part of a general amnesty.
  • The vote followed an outpouring of criticism from conservatives and others who decried it as a form of amnesty for lawbreakers.
  • For those who had applied for amnesty, today was a big step forward.
  • The telecom amnesty is really a small, teeny, tiny issue compared to everything else the country has to face right now.
  • Digital tools have eliminated that amnesty.
  • But the development authority is not eager to prosecute, so it announced an amnesty program yesterday.
  • Besides, under international law no amnesty is possible for war crimes .
  • On its own, an international tax amnesty won't resolve the credit crisis or repair the economy.
British Dictionary definitions for amnesty


noun (pl) -ties
a general pardon, esp for offences against a government
a period during which a law is suspended to allow offenders to admit their crime without fear of prosecution
(law) a pardon granted by the Crown or Executive and effected by statute
verb -ties, -tying, -tied
(transitive) to overlook or forget (an offence)
Word Origin
C16: from Latin amnēstia, from Greek: oblivion, from amnēstos forgetting, from a-1 + -mnēstos, from mnasthai to remember
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for amnesty

"pardon of past offenses," 1570s, from French amnestie "intentional overlooking," from Latin amnestia, from Greek amnestia "forgetfulness (of wrong); an amnesty," from a-, privative prefix, "not" (see a- (3)), + mnestis "remembrance," related to mnaomai "I remember" (see mind (n.)). As a verb, from 1809. Amnesty International founded 1961 as Appeal for Amnesty. The name was changed 1963.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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