expiation

noun
ex·​pi·​a·​tion | \ ˌek-spē-ˈā-shən How to pronounce expiation (audio) \

Definition of expiation

1a : the act of expiating something : the act of extinguishing the guilt incurred by something … the Mass, the principal church ceremony that celebrates the sacrifice of Christ for the expiation of the original sin of Adam and Eve.The Root (online)
b : the act or process of making atonement for something When the available files failed to provide a complete picture of Argentine complicity, what began as an attempt at public expiation and national exorcism of its Nazi ghosts ended in depictions of Argentina as even more entangled in and haunted by its Nazi past.— Victoria Allison
2 : the means by which expiation or atonement is made Well, all I can do now is to carry out his wishes; that will be my expiation for my neglect.— Bram Stoker You wanted to write about the way people left so much food on their plates and crumpled a few dollar bills down, as though it were an offering, expiation for the wasted food.— Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Examples of expiation in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This personal accountability is unavoidable in the casting of his daughter Sofia as Michael’s daughter Mary, a figure of sacrifice and expiation just like the totems of fallen religious statuary and the archbishop’s plummeting corpse. Armond White, National Review, "The Godfather Coda Mixes Crime, Politics, and Religion," 4 Dec. 2020 That no further expiation of the nation’s sins would be necessary. Graham Hillard, National Review, "The Other Case against Reparations," 22 July 2019 What’s more, the film goes beyond who did what into matters of intention and expiation. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘Beast’ Review: In Hot Pursuit of Love and Danger," 9 May 2018 Afterward, as expiation, the pool was filled in and transformed into a Zen garden, now part of the Bloedel Reserve. David Gilbert, The New Yorker, "Fungus," 4 June 2017 For her, its conventions enabled catharsis, the expiation of fear of the unknown—as embodied by the serial killer who stalks the pages of this work whistling hymns and wrapping his dog’s leash around the necks of five women. WSJ, "Five Best: Laura Thompson," 30 Mar. 2018 After expiation, redemption—with George at our side. James Ellroy, Vanities, "James Ellroy’s Buzz M for Murder," 7 Oct. 2017 Nevertheless, support for him increasingly sounds like a ceremony of expiation and, ultimately, an act of faith. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, "John McCain Walks on Water," 20 July 2017 Redemption wasn’t quite possible for Lee, but there was expiation for the actor. Christian Lorentzen, New Republic, "The spirit of wounded masculinity haunts America in 'A Ghost Story.'," 5 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'expiation.' 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 expiation

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about expiation

Time Traveler for expiation

Time Traveler

The first known use of expiation was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for expiation

Last Updated

9 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Expiation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/expiation. Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on expiation

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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