con·​tri·​tion | \kən-ˈtri-shən \

Definition of contrition 

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

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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

His drunk scene in Cyprus (orchestrated by Iago) is heartbreaking; so is his abject contrition afterward. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: A Cool-Tempered ‘Othello’ for Warm Central Park Nights," 18 June 2018 After the allegations about him broke there were some nice-sounding apologies, promises and gestures, and numerous holiday parties were sacrificed in the name of male contrition. A. O. Scott And Manohla Dargis, New York Times, "Dear Movie Industry, We Have Thoughts," 2 May 2018 Khosrowshahi has done his best to convey level-headedness and contrition for Uber’s past sins—an expensive endeavor, as detailed in a recent Wall Street Journal piece about big corporate apology tours. David Meyer, Fortune, "Uber Turned Down a $3 Billion Investment From Warren Buffett. That's Good News for Uber—Really.," 31 May 2018 In preparing the statement, Zillo asked if there was any sign of contrition from Gossage, something resembling an olive branch. New York Times, "An Exiled Old-Timer, Goose Gossage Still Won’t Back Down," 15 June 2018 Yes, and the problem is that even after the mistake is made, there is no contrition. Fox News, "Is it time for Mueller to wrap up his investigation?," 3 June 2018 USA TODAY Sports There can be no redemption without contrition, no rehabilitation without an acknowledgment of wrongdoing. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Should Oregon State pitcher who molested niece play? Not if he continues to deny crime," 23 May 2018 The Ravens expressed contrition in accepting both penalties. Childs Walker,, "Ravens to forfeit two days of OTAs this week for violation of league rules," 7 June 2018 For a company that rightly prides itself on its privacy and security bona fides, the rash of incidents elicited a rare message of contrition. Brian Barrett, WIRED, "The Best Part of Apple's WWDC Keynote Is What Wasn't There," 4 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of contrition

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for contrition

see contrite

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Last Updated

24 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for contrition

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

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English Language Learners Definition of contrition

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

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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).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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