ex·​pi·​a·​tion ˌek-spē-ˈā-shən How to pronounce expiation (audio)
: 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)
: 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
: 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 In that lighter air of expiation, women lit candles on the edge of the street that led from the shrine to the place that marked Hussein’s camp on the field of battle. Aatish Taseer, New York Times, 9 Nov. 2023 Many religious communities around the world include an injunction to acknowledge wrongdoing through expiation. Will Stephenson, Harper's Magazine, 16 Aug. 2023 Her death must be an expiation, her down-going as sheer, blind, and sudden as the breathless plunge of a Peruvian child hurled down a stony chasm to placate the mountain spirit. Matthew Gavin Frank, Harper's Magazine, 4 May 2023 The catalog essays feature ideological arm-twisting and theoretical mind games that leave me wondering whether the people involved regard their joy as a sin demanding expiation. Jed Perl, The New York Review of Books, 3 Aug. 2022 So writing the play was an act of expiation? David Marchese David Marchesephotograph By Mamadi Doumbouya, New York Times, 23 Nov. 2022 The music and the movement enacted a ritual of sonic expiation, a freedom born in sound. Adam Bradley Adam Bradley Photographs By D’angelo Lovell Williams Styled By Ian Bradley Nick Haramis Photographs By Lise Sarfati Styled By Suzanne Koller Sasha Weiss Photographs By Justin French Susan Dominus Photographs By Luis Alberto Rodriguez Styled By Charlotte Collet, New York Times, 13 Oct. 2022 Whether in a miscalculation or (as Jeffreys-Jones somewhat breathlessly speculates) as an act of personal expiation, Colby gave Hersh partial confirmation. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, 3 Oct. 2022 Dickie takes it upon himself to look out for the boy—all the more so since Dickie, having recently committed a murder, seems seized with guilt and hopes for expiation through good works. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 1 Oct. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'expiation.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near expiation

Cite this Entry

“Expiation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/expiation. Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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