Which of the following is the most accurate meaning for the word amnesty?

  1. a general pardon to prisoners of war
  2. a general pardon of political offenders

I am aware that maybe neither is accurate, but if I have these two to choose between, which one is nearest to the correct meaning and why?

2 Answers 2


I believe the correct term to use for prisoners of war is parole. Parole refers to people who are already imprisoned, amnesty to those who have not yet been imprisoned but may face that punishment.

So, by elimination, the second choice is more likely to be what the test-givers are looking for.

  • well the answer is a general pardon of political offenders :|
    – Quixotic
    Nov 27, 2010 at 18:24
  • Looking further, I see that amnesty does carry political overtones, so the second choice is still probably right.
    – Robusto
    Nov 27, 2010 at 18:36

Amnesty only means pardon. There are many kinds of amnesties, like tax amnesty for people that committed tax fraud, or your two examples.

It comes from Greek amnestia, which comes from a (not, un-) and mnes (to remember) and has the connotation of forgetting.

Usually it is used for a group of people, but not necessarily.

  • But if I have to choose from those two option, what should I do? This actually comes form my test paper.
    – Quixotic
    Nov 27, 2010 at 18:04

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