Difference Between Excuse and Reason

Main Difference – Excuse vs Reason

Excuse and reason are two words that explain the cause or base for something, and the meanings of these two words overlap to a certain extent. The main difference between excuse and reason is that excuse specifically refers to a reason or explanation given to justify a fault. Excuse also tends to be associated with many negative connotations whereas reason is a more neutral term.Difference Between Excuse and Reason - infographic

Reason – Definition, Meaning and Usage

Reason is a cause or basis for something; it explains why something happened. According to Oxford Dictionary, reason is “a cause, explanation, or justification for an action or event” whereas American Heritage defines reason as “a basis or motive for an action, decision, or conviction” Reason can explain why something good happened or why it didn’t happen. It can also explain why something bad happened or why something bad didn’t happen. In other words, it can be used to explain both positive and negative scenarios.  Observe the following examples to understand the meaning and usage of this noun better.

I resigned the job for personal reasons.

I’m sure there must be a good reason behind this sudden decision.

This is the reason she left me.

Did she give any reasons for her absence?

Main Difference - Excuse vs Reason

Excuse – Definition, Meaning and Usage

Excuse refers to a reason, specifically, it is a reason given to justify a mistake or an offence. In other words, excuse is an explanation as to why something bad happened or why something good didn’t happen.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines excuse as “an explanation offered to justify or obtain forgiveness” and Oxford Dictionary defines it as “A reason or explanation given to justify a fault or offence”.  

Since excuse is always related to an offence or fault, it is often associated with negative connotations. This is why many people do not like the term excuse.

Excuse also implies that the person who committed the offence or mistake is not accepting his own fault. He or she uses external factors to excuse their actions or behaviour. Let’s take the simple example of failing an exam. Your friends borrowing your books, your neighbour making lot of noises, lack of time, the difficulty level of the paper – all these are excuses. The real reason for failing the exam may be neglecting your studies.

I don’t want any excuses; I want this done by Saturday.

There can be no excuse for further delay.

What’s your excuse for being absent last week?

He used his health condition as an excuse.

Your family problem is not an excuse for neglecting your work.

Difference Between Excuse and Reason

Difference Between Excuse and Reason


Excuse is a reason or explanation given to justify a fault or offence.

Reason is an explanation, cause or basis for something.


Excuse has negative connotations.

Reason is a neutral term.

Positive vs Negative

Excuse is usually used in negative scenarios.

Reason is used in both positive and negative scenarios.  

In an Offense or Fault

Excuse implies that the blame is directed at somebody else.

Reason implies that fault is sincerely recognized and  accepted.

About the Author: Hasa

Hasanthi is a seasoned content writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. Armed with a BA degree in English and a knack for digital marketing, she explores her passions for literature, history, culture, and food through her engaging and informative writing.