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 And this revelation, investigation, and expiation not only purged the political system but reaffirmed its legitimacy before the public. Mark Danner, The New York Review of Books, 1 July 2021 In a vain attempt to ward off further divine retribution, thousands of European men wandered from town to town as flagellants, whipping and scourging themselves in collective acts of expiation. Niall Ferguson Bloomberg Opinion, Star Tribune, 31 July 2021 For white mediums, communicating with spirits of other races could be a form of expiation, a way to confront violent histories and make cultural amends—or merely crude appropriation, garish performance art that was good for business. Casey Cep, The New Yorker, 24 May 2021 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, 4 Dec. 2020 That no further expiation of the nation’s sins would be necessary. Graham Hillard, National Review, 22 July 2019 What’s more, the film goes beyond who did what into matters of intention and expiation. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, 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, 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, 30 Mar. 2018 See More

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.

First Known Use of expiation

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

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

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Cite this Entry

“Expiation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/expiation. Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

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