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A non-specific reason that excuses something that would otherwise be troublesome or problematic. All I heard was that the professor gave her an extension on her term paper due to extenuating circumstances.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
special (but otherwise unspecified) circumstances that account for an irregular or improper way of doing something. Mary was permitted to arrive late because of extenuating circumstances. Due to extenuating circumstances, the teacher will not meet with the class today.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
A situation or condition that provides an excuse for an action, as in Although Nancy missed three crucial rehearsals, there were extenuating circumstances, so she was not dismissed . This expression was originally legal terminology, denoting circumstances that partly excuse a crime and therefore call for less punishment or damages. [c. 1600]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.