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 In a statement read by Bryant’s lawyer in court as a condition of dropping the charges, the athlete was contrite. NBC News, "Kobe Bryant evolved on race, representing the NBA's transition from Michael Jordan to LeBron James," 29 Jan. 2020 Over the weekend, Houston Astros players had a chance to be contrite over the electronic sign stealing scandal that led to the suspensions and subsequent firings of former general manager Jeff Lunhow and manager AJ Hinch. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, "Astros owner Jim Crane says players will apologize for electronic sign-stealing scandal," 22 Jan. 2020 After Apstein’s story went viral, the Astros adopted a more contrite spin, without actually apologizing to Apstein—or, frankly, to anyone. Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, "The Stories That the Houston Astros Have Told," 25 Oct. 2019 Jenkins was hardly contrite and offered a hollowed apology when offered the chance to do so Thursday. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, "'Best news ever': Janoris Jenkins happy New York Giants cut him after insensitive tweet," 13 Dec. 2019 Initially, Korey appeared contrite over the allegations. Sarah Todd, Quartz at Work, "Does Away co-founder Steph Korey really deserve to be CEO again?," 14 Jan. 2020 Beilein understands the severity of his error and is contrite. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "John Beilein apologizes to Cavaliers players after calling them ‘thugs’ when he meant to say ‘slugs’ in Detroit film session," 9 Jan. 2020 The hundreds of text messages between Rosselló and his aides triggered fury that Rosselló’s contrite statements couldn’t dampen. Michael Deibert,, "Puerto Rico’s governor poised to resign amid ongoing protests," 24 July 2019 In what amounted to a resignation statement, the duke was decidedly more contrite than in his BBC interview of a few days earlier. Max Foster, CNN, "Why Britain's Queen Elizabeth had to let Prince Andrew go," 22 Nov. 2019

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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Time Traveler for contrite

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

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Last Updated

26 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Contrite.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for contrite


How to pronounce contrite (audio)

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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