con·​tri·​tion | \ kən-ˈtri-shən How to pronounce contrition (audio) \

Definition of contrition

: the state of being contrite : repentance She shed tears of contrition for her sins.

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for contrition

penitence, repentance, contrition, compunction, remorse mean regret for sin or wrongdoing. penitence implies sad and humble realization of and regret for one's misdeeds. absolution is dependent upon sincere penitence repentance adds the implication of a resolve to change. repentance accompanied by a complete change of character contrition stresses the sorrowful regret that constitutes true penitence. tearful expressions of contrition compunction implies a painful sting of conscience especially for contemplated wrongdoing. had no compunctions about taking back what is mine remorse suggests prolonged and insistent self-reproach and mental anguish for past wrongs and especially for those whose consequences cannot be remedied. thieves untroubled by feelings of remorse

Examples of contrition in a Sentence

Were her tears a true sign of contrition? once again she heard her abusive husband's tearful expressions of contrition
Recent Examples on the Web When that lukewarm contrition wasn't well received, Taubman was fired on Thursday and General Manager Jeff Luhnow struggled to explain the series of missteps. NBC News, "Washington Nationals beat Houston Astros in Game 7 to win franchise's first World Series," 31 Oct. 2019 In response Hong Kong leaders have tried thus far a mixture of patience, contrition and hard-nosed police tactics. The Economist, "Hong Kong protesters storm the legislative council," 30 June 2019 In a sentencing memo filed in federal court on Friday, Mr. Cohen’s lawyers cited their client’s contrition and his cooperation with law enforcement in their plea for leniency. Michael Rothfeld, WSJ, "Trump Again Blasts Michael Cohen, the Former Lawyer Who Broke With Him," 3 Dec. 2018 Lam was trying to strike a difficult balance Tuesday, showing contrition to protesters without further giving in to their demands. Keith Bradsher,, "Hong Kong’s leader publicly apologizes for extradition bill," 18 June 2019 Huneeus could have faced up to 20 years in prison, but prosecutors recommended the low end of federal sentencing guidelines for him and other parents who pleaded guilty and showed contrition. Matthias Gafni,, "‘My own ego brought me down’: SF dad to be sentenced in college admissions scandal as details emerge," 3 Oct. 2019 The sprinters were sent home after their protest and the USOPC ignored them for years before taking steps recently to embrace the duo, an act of contrition which culminated with Saturday’s induction. Tom Orsborn,, "Popovich thrilled to see Carlos, Smith receive ‘overdue’ honor," 3 Nov. 2019 Though Harden’s sentiments may be sincere, his contrition advances Beijing’s propaganda goals. Isaac Stone Fish, Twin Cities, "Isaac Stone Fish: How China gets American companies to parrot its propaganda," 14 Oct. 2019 Trump, of course, shows no sign of contrition or self-doubt. David Remnick, The New Yorker, "Nancy Pelosi: An Extremely Stable Genius," 25 Sep. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of contrition

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for contrition

see contrite

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about contrition

Time Traveler for contrition

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for contrition

Last Updated

17 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Contrition.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for contrition


How to pronounce contrition (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of contrition

formal : the state of feeling sorry for bad behavior : the state of being contrite

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on contrition

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for contrition

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with contrition

Spanish Central: Translation of contrition

Nglish: Translation of contrition for Spanish Speakers

Comments on contrition

What made you want to look up contrition? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!