Simple Definition of contrite
: feeling or showing regret for bad behavior
Full Definition of contrite
: feeling or showing sorrow and remorse for a sin or shortcoming <a contrite criminal> <a contrite apology> <contrite sighs>
Examples of contrite in a sentence
Allbaugh apologized, though it was clear he was hardly contrite. —Christopher Cooper &Robert Block, Disaster, 2006
… Teddy was immediately contrite. “That was stupid of me. Forgive me.” —Jack Higgins, The President's Daughter, 1998
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
… 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
<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
CONTRITE Defined for Kids
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).