I am having trouble coming up with a word or phrase for this concept (prefer a word if possible):

I originally suspected that I did something awful several years ago, but after I investigated I found that I did not; someone else was at fault. Now I am satisfied and relieved.

Example: "You know that $1000 vase I broke in 1986? Well, it turns out it wasn't me; it was Billy! Now I am/feel X"

Where X is some combination of feeling relieved, satisfied, and vindicated, but appropriate for and specific to this context. My instinct is to use vindicated, but is there something stronger than this? It's not just that I feel vindicated, but also that I know the identity of the actual perpetrator.

  • Something along the lines of exonerated, or exculpated?
    – Jason Drew
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 22:04
  • Needs references.
    – ab2
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 23:12
  • Exonerated or exculpated are good to describe the factual situation. Like FF I doubt there is a word that does this but also carries an emotional connotation of relief.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 23:47
  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post. - From Review
    – Misti
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 12:56

1 Answer 1


By rights you should feel...

vindicated - shown or proved to be right, reasonable, or justified

I don't think it's realistic to expect English to have a special word for contexts where you were not only proved to be right in your public protestations of innocence, but that you were also right about the identity of the actual perpetrator (even if you never divulged this information to your accusers).

  • I bet there's a German word for it ;-)
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 22:54
  • Vindication applies more to the situation you described, where you originally protest your innocence and subsequently your innocence is proved. The way I read the question, the OP did not originally believe xerself to be innocent, but instead suspected that xe was at fault.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 23:44
  • @MετάEd: Perhaps I'm not getting whatever OP means by "something stronger". It seems to me if you don't even know whether you were responsible for something awful having happened, you could only really feel relief if it turned out you weren't in fact "culpable". I therefore dismissed that one of OP's three elements (relieved, satisfied, vindicated) because "a stronger sense of relief" doesn't make much sense to me. Given vindicated inherently implies satisfied (you got the justice you wanted), and is already a "strong" term, I think it's the best one available. Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 0:34
  • @FumbleFingers How do I undo a downvote? I had repairmen here, and was distracted, and I accidentally clicked on downvote on your A and could not undo it. We will both survive if nothing can be done, but I'd like to know.
    – ab2
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 22:03
  • @ab2: If you re-click on the relevant button straight after a miscast vote it will be cancelled, but at some later point the system won't let you do this unless the answer text is altered. I'm not sure if you have enough rep to edit my answer and thus re-enable vote retraction. I've been able to do this for ages, but if that's the only reason for making such an edit, I invariably just add a single space at the start of the answer text. I like that someone did this to me very appropriately (the displayed answer text doesn't change). Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 22:14

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