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

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-, meaning "with" or "together," and terere, "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 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
Recent Examples on the Web At times contrite and at times defensive, Davies and Zhu, speaking from an undisclosed location, described a systemic failure of risk management in which easy-flowing credit worsened the impact of wrong-way bets. Muyao Shen, Fortune, 22 July 2022 When that effort failed, Amagasaki officials held their contrite briefing. New York Times, 28 June 2022 This is more contrite than last week, when the IRS said a lack of funds and rampant identity theft left it no choice but to embrace biometrics. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 8 Feb. 2022 Yarrow told me that the past outcries have prompted him to become more introspective, contrite, and make a concerted effort to model better behavior. Mike Koshmrl, Outside Online, 14 Apr. 2021 In the Financial Times interview, Neumann is reflective though not contrite. Walter Frick, Quartz, 20 Mar. 2022 But Zucker appeared to be neither surprised nor contrite. Tatiana Siegel, Rolling Stone, 11 Mar. 2022 Google executives disclosed the removal of the app in an internal email whose contrite tone suggests that the decision was not popular with some employees. Washington Post, 10 Mar. 2022 In August 2020, after an independent review of the allegations against Philbert, Schlissel was contrite in a statement to the Michigan community. Nick Anderson, Anchorage Daily News, 16 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

14 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Contrite.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for contrite


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 Fleishman, The Whipping Boy

More from Merriam-Webster on contrite

Nglish: Translation of contrite for Spanish Speakers


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