Definition of expiate
- permission to expiate their offences by their assiduous labours
- —Francis Bacon
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
Yom Kippur is the holy day on which Jews are expected to expiate sins committed during the past year.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'expiate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Disaster shall fall upon you, which you will not be able to expiate. That ominous biblical prophecy (Isaiah 47:11, RSV) shows that expiate was once involved in confronting the forces of evil as well as in assuaging guilt. The word derives from expiare, Latin for to atone for, a root that in turn traces to the Latin term for "pious." Expiate originally referred to warding off evil by using sacred rites or to using sacred rites to cleanse or purify something. By the 17th century, Shakespeare (and others) were using it to mean "to put an end to": "But when in thee time's furrows I behold, / Then look I death my days should expiate" (Sonnet 22). Those senses have since become obsolete, and now only the "extinguish the guilt" and "make amends" senses remain in use.
First Known Use: circa 1500See Words from the same year
: to do something as a way to show that you are sorry about doing something bad
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