pro·​pi·​ti·​a·​tion prō-ˌpi-shē-ˈā-shən How to pronounce propitiation (audio)
: the act of gaining or regaining the favor or goodwill of someone or something : the act of propitiating : appeasement
a sacrifice in propitiation of the gods
… she showed every possible desire to conciliate him, and there was an air of humble propitiation in all she did, such as I have seen pervade the bearing of a child towards a hard master.Charles Dickens
: something that propitiates or appeases
specifically : an atoning sacrifice

Examples of propitiation in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The coming propitiation looms large — an angel of mercy hovering over this melodrama, even at its most melodramatic. Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post, 11 July 2023 Slavery was upheld in our original Constitution, as a propitiation between Southern states—where the economy thrummed on the backs of human chattel—and the states that had either no use for slavery or were considering its abolition. Rich Logis, The New Republic, 19 Apr. 2023 The act of propitiation; gratitude reified. William F. Buckley Jr., National Review, 26 Nov. 2020 Many customs and beliefs, rooted in ancient practices of affecting reality and averting danger by acts of propitiation and protection, are being reinvented—including wayside shrines on the sites of fatal accidents. Marina Warner, The New York Review of Books, 2 July 2020 The scapegoat, as defined in the Book of Leviticus, is a propitiation. Sarah Jones, New Republic, 16 Feb. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'propitiation.' 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 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near propitiation

Cite this Entry

“Propitiation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

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