To Palliate, Extenuate, Cloak. These words, as here compared, are used in a figurative sense in reference to our treatment of wrong action. We cloak in order to conceal completely. We extenuate a crime when we endeavor to show that it is less than has been supposed; we palliate a crime when we endeavor to cover or conceal its enormity, at least in part. This naturally leads us to soften some of its features, and thus palliate approaches extenuate till they have become nearly or quite identical. To palliate is not now used, though it once was, in the sense of wholly cloaking or covering over, as it might be, our sins, but in that of extenuating; to palliate our faults is not to hide them altogether, but to seek to diminish their guilt in part.
Origin: Palliated; Palliating.