Guide to Literary Terms Apology

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Apology - a defense and justification for some belief, doctrine, piece of writing, cause, or action without any admission of blame with which we contemporarily associate the word. In the Eighteenth Century, the word came to be used loosely almost as a synonym for autobiography without any suggestion of justifying or defending the writer’s ideas or conduct.

The term comes from the Greek apologia, meaning defense. This Greek word was formed by joining apo, which means away, and logia, which means speaking.

Plato recorded Socrates’s Apologia in the Fourth Century B.C. At the end of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, there is a retraction or apology for his work; in this case, apology means both an explanation and an expression of regret.

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