con·​trite | \ kən-ˈtrīt also ˈkän-ˌtrīt How to pronounce contrite (audio) \

Definition of contrite

: feeling or showing sorrow and remorse for a sin or shortcoming a contrite criminal a contrite apology contrite sighs

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Other Words from contrite

contritely adverb
contriteness noun

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.

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
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Recent Examples on the Web

Trump has further alienated many South Koreans by threatening to withdraw from the United States' free-trade agreement with the country, although a relatively contrite appearance before South Korea's parliament in November did mend some bridges. Adam Taylor, Washington Post, "Is Trump making himself irrelevant on North Korea?," 5 Jan. 2018 Only a self righteous, narcissist would continue to spout off and not - in the face of Americans’ pain and agony -be contrite and apologize for your part in this catastrophe. Mariah Haas, Fox News, "Debra Messing tells fellow actress Susan Sarandon to 'shut the f--- up' over Trump," 12 Sep. 2018 Cuban was contrite in an interview with ESPN's Rachel Nichols. Fox News, "Media's Kavanaugh spectacle," 24 Sep. 2018 In court Uber had taken a contrite and muted stance, promising to do more to provide support for riders and drivers, including launching a telephone hotline for passengers. The Economist, "Contrition wins the day for Uber in a big market," 28 June 2018 Since then, her tweets have fluctuated between the bellicose and contrite. Greg Braxton,, "The battles of Roseanne Barr and why a spinoff show could lead to another epic fight," 14 June 2018 Did anyone in Mogincual feel contrite, or somehow wiser for the tragic events of 2009? Longreads, "Where Have You Hidden the Cholera?," 5 Apr. 2018 Men unyoked from their families, reeling from broken bonds, are the norm: some contrite and faithfully sending child support checks, others blowing all their money on meth, pickups and good times. Longreads, "Life on the Oil Frontier," 23 Apr. 2018 Both men were contrite (Rose should have taken note of that in 1989) and, in issuing his indefinite suspension, Rozelle took care to mention that neither player bet on or against their own teams. Chris Chase, For The Win, "11 biggest scandals in sports gambling history," 16 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contrite.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of contrite

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for 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 entry 1

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The first known use of contrite was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for contrite



English Language Learners Definition of contrite

formal : feeling or showing regret for bad behavior


con·​trite | \ ˈkän-ˌtrīt How to pronounce contrite (audio) , kən-ˈtrīt\

Kids Definition of contrite

: 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on contrite

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for contrite

Spanish Central: Translation of contrite

Nglish: Translation of contrite for Spanish Speakers

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behavior toward others

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