penitence

noun pen·i·tence \ ˈpe-nə-tən(t)s \

Definition of penitence

:the quality or state of being penitent :sorrow for sins or faults
  • Forgiveness requires penitence.

Examples of penitence in a Sentence

  1. the sincerity of the player's penitence is questionable—he began to express remorse only after the suspension was handed down

Recent Examples of penitence from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'penitence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of penitence

Middle English, from Anglo-French penitance, from Medieval Latin poenitentia, alteration of Latin paenitentia regret, from paenitent-, paenitens, present participle

Synonym Discussion of penitence

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

Other Christian Religious Terms


PENITENCE Defined for English Language Learners

penitence

noun

Definition of penitence for English Language Learners

  • : a feeling of deep sadness because you have done something wrong


PENITENCE Defined for Kids

penitence

noun pen·i·tence \ ˈpe-nə-təns \

Definition of penitence for Students

:deep sadness that a person feels for his or her sins or faults


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

serious difficulty or misfortune

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one-green-toy-robot-amidst-many-red-toy-robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

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!