Definition of atone
: to make amends : to provide or serve as reparation or compensation for something bad or unwelcome —usually + for He wanted to atone for his sins. “But I think that he has within him a capacity for love, and an unselfishness, which almost atones for his dishonesty. — Anthony Trollope
1 : to make reparation or supply satisfaction for : expiate —used in the passive voice with for a crime that must be atoned for
2 obsolete : reconcile
atone was our Word of the Day on 05/19/2013. Hear the podcast!
Recent Examples of atone from the Web
Mendoza also atoned for fielding and throwing errors that allowed one of North Carolina's three second-inning runs.
And now this Florida Keys clan, its Kennedyesque luster irrevocably tarnished, is atoning for its sins.
Drew Doughty committed a costly turnover that led to Mikko Rantanen's second-period goal, only to atone with a pinpoint backhanded pass that set up Toffoli's score.
A birdie on the final hole still kept him right in the mix to atone for a playoff loss at Kapalua two years ago.
Meanwhile, to atone for its environmental sins, VW Group has redirected billions of euros toward EV and plug-in hybrid development, aiming for 3 million EV/plug-in sales by 2025.
Max Taylor Photography How Should Universities Atone for Their Past Mistakes?
To atone for an overly pragmatic career in politics, a Florida governor mounts an expensive but muddled Presidential campaign.
The show was also atoning for the 2014 snub of Kendrick Lamar, who lost best rap album to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis at the time.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'atone'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
Atone comes to us from the combination in Middle English of at and on, the latter of which is an old variant of one. Together they meant "in harmony." (In current English, we use at one with a similar suggestion of harmony in such phrases as "at one with nature.") When it first entered English, atone meant "to reconcile and suggested the restoration of a peaceful and harmonious state between people or groups." These days the verb specifically implies addressing the damage (or disharmony) caused by one's own behavior.
Origin and Etymology of atone
Middle English, to become reconciled, from at on in harmony, from at + on one
First Known Use: 1574
ATONE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of atone for English Language Learners
: to do something good as a way to show that you are sorry about doing something bad
ATONE Defined for Kids
Definition of atone for Students
: to do something to make up for a wrong … her grandmother watched over her with untiring devotion, as if trying to atone for some past mistake … — Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up atone? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).