“They thought he was going to apologize for the broken cookie jar. Instead, he just acted as an apologist for his own bad behavior.”

What is the best definition of apologist?

Check your answer!

Choice A - A person who expresses sincere regret about their behavior
Choice B - A person who argues and defends a controversial position
Choice C - A person who regrets holding a prior position on a matter
Choice D - A person who argues against generally accepted beliefs


Apologist (noun) – a person who makes an argument in defense of a (often controversial) position

Apologize (verb) – to express regret; or, to defend a position

GRE pro tips:

Given the Greek roots apo (“to separate”) and logos (“word” or “reason”), it makes sense that an apologist is someone who voices reason or support for a certain position, often by presenting a rationale or a series of facts that supports the validity of their conclusions. Apologetics first emerged in ancient Greece as the practice of defending religious doctrines using systematic argumentation. Today, however, you can be an apologist for any cause or perspective, but the term is typically used to describe someone who argues in favor of, or defends, an unpopular position.

To better remember that an apologist is a person who makes a defense, consider what someone is doing next time they offer an “apology.” Is the apology an expression of regret at having done wrong? Or, instead, is it a defense of the rightness of their behavior? If it is the latter, the apology is not sincere – it is without remorse. Instead, the person offering it is simply acting as an apologist for their own bad behavior.

Example sentences:

“The head of the NRA dedicated his career to apologizing for gun rights.”

“Abortion apologists tend to place emphasis on the health and well-being of the woman, whereas abortion opponents focus on the sanctity of the fetus as a separate entity.”  

“Vinny had long been a vanilla ice cream apologist, contending that no flavor – and especially not chocolate – rivaled it in color, taste, or overall sensory appeal.”