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adjective con·trite \ˈkän-ˌtrīt, kən-ˈ\

Simple Definition of contrite

  • : feeling or showing regret for bad behavior

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of contrite

  1. :  feeling or showing sorrow and remorse for a sin or shortcoming <a contrite criminal> <a contrite apology> <contrite sighs>

contritely adverb
contriteness noun

Examples of contrite in a sentence

  1. Allbaugh apologized, though it was clear he was hardly contrite. —Christopher Cooper &Robert Block, Disaster, 2006

  2. … Teddy was immediately contrite. “That was stupid of me. Forgive me.” —Jack Higgins, The President's Daughter, 1998

  3. At the airport, the meter registers nine pounds, and of course he had said six or seven. I have a sense now of his feeling somewhat contrite, or perhaps only abashed. —Renata Adler, Pitch Dark, 1983

  4. … for days afterward, afraid of himself and worried about his sanity, he would be contrite and terribly ashamed. —John Nichols, The Milagro Beanfield War, 1974

  5. <being contrite is not enough to spare you an arrest if you're caught shoplifting>

Did You Know?

A person who is contrite may have rubbed someone the wrong way and caused bruised feelings - and there is a hint about the origins of the word in that thought. Contrite came to English by way of Anglo-French from the Latin verb conterere, meaning "to grind" or "to bruise." Conterere, in turn, was formed by combining the prefix com- and terere, meaning "to rub." If you've guessed that trite is a cousin of contrite (through terere), you are correct. Other terere descendants in English include detriment and tribulation, and very possibly the familiar verb try.

Origin of contrite

Middle English contrit, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin contritus, from Latin, past participle of conterere to grind, bruise, from com- + terere to rub — more at throw

First Known Use: 14th century

Other Religion (Eastern and Other) Terms

CONTRITE Defined for Kids


adjective con·trite \ˈkän-ˌtrīt, kən-ˈtrīt\

Definition of contrite for Students

  1. :  feeling or showing sorrow for having done something bad or wrong :  repentant <The prince lowered his head so as to appear humbled and contrite. — Sid Fleischman, The Whipping Boy>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up contrite? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the range of perception or understanding

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