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

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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 Following The New York Times piece, Variety added a contrite editor's note to the top of the review. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, "Carey Mulligan receives apology, opens up about 'Promising Young Woman' review: 'It stuck with me'," 28 Jan. 2021 But Saban saw an unemployed coach who just completed a stint in rehab, who seemed contrite enough to rejoin the FBS, who still owned a sharp football mind and a desire to compete. Nick Moyle,, "New Texas Longhorns coach Steve Sarkisian hoping to go out on top with Alabama in CFP national championship," 7 Jan. 2021 The problem, then, isn’t simply which horses a newly contrite Charles Koch chooses to back, but the extent to which his extreme wealth and his commitment to a system that enshrines the power of the rich has shaped the entire racetrack. J.c. Pan, The New Republic, "Charles Koch Got the Free-Market Dystopia He Wanted. Now He’d Like Your Approval.," 17 Nov. 2020 As for the unpaid taxes, Mr. Osceola sounded less than contrite. Steven Kurutz, New York Times, "Max Osceola Jr., Seminole Tribal Leader, Dies at 70," 16 Oct. 2020 Italy’s bond yields climbed sharply, forcing Lagarde into a contrite U-turn. Ferdinando Giugliano,, "Lagarde’s Mixed Report Card After One Year at European Central Bank," 14 Oct. 2020 The singer appears contrite and downcast in his 2:37 Instagram video, in contrast with his anything-goes attitude in the viral TikTok clips. Mary Colurso |, al, "Morgan Wallen canceled by ‘SNL’ after partying without mask in Tuscaloosa," 8 Oct. 2020 But back in November 2017, Lyman came across as more contrite. Leia Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah Rep. Phil Lyman may pay off judgment instead of giving tax returns to feds," 18 Sep. 2020 According to Herman, Foster was contrite and apologetic in his return. Dallas News, "Moore speaks on “long year-and-a-half”, Overshown enjoys positional change," 15 Sep. 2020

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

3 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Contrite.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on contrite

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for contrite

Nglish: Translation of contrite for Spanish Speakers

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