adjective con·trite \ kən-ˈtrīt also ˈkän-ˌtrīt \
|Updated on: 3 Jul 2018

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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Examples of contrite in a Sentence

  1. Allbaugh apologized, though it was clear he was hardly contrite. —Christopher Cooper &Robert BlockDisaster2006
  2. … Teddy was immediately contrite. "That was stupid of me. Forgive me." —Jack HigginsThe President's Daughter1998
  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 AdlerPitch Dark1983
  4. … for days afterward, afraid of himself and worried about his sanity, he would be contrite and terribly ashamed. —John NicholsThe Milagro Beanfield War1974
  5. being contrite is not enough to spare you an arrest if you're caught shoplifting

Recent Examples of contrite from the Web

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.

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 and Etymology 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 1throw

Other Religion (Eastern and Other) Terms

CONTRITE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of contrite for English Language Learners

  • : feeling or showing regret for bad behavior

CONTRITE Defined for Kids


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

Definition of contrite for Students

: 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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excessive admiration or flattery

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