re·morse | \ri-ˈmȯrs \

Definition of remorse 

1 : a gnawing distress arising from a sense of guilt for past wrongs : self-reproach

2 obsolete : compassion

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Choose the Right Synonym for remorse

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

Did You Know?

In Latin, mordere means "to bite;" thus, remorse is something that "gnaws" at you over and over. In criminal court, judges are always looking for signs that a convicted felon is suffering remorse for his crime; if not, the judge may well lengthen his sentence or deny him parole after serving part of it. Remorse is stronger than mere regret; real remorse is the kind of thing that may last a lifetime.

Examples of remorse in a Sentence

I could forgive him for what he did if he showed some remorse. he felt a deep remorse for having neglected his family over the years

Recent Examples on the Web

His remorse began on the first-class flight to the family’s vacation home in Baja California, outside Cabo Pulmo. Sara Randazzo, WSJ, "The Sexting Scandal That Toppled One of America’s Most Powerful Lawyers," 13 July 2018 The desire to be a good father stumbles into something familiar and filled with remorse. Mark Sappenfield, The Christian Science Monitor, "Breaking the cycle of absentee fatherhood," 17 June 2018 Jacobs expressed remorse in a brief statement to Ezra. Patrick Danner, San Antonio Express-News, "FourWinds bookkeeper who testified against Uresti sentenced to year in prison camp," 11 July 2018 Marquette’s president accepted a faculty recommendation to give Dr. McAdams two semesters unpaid leave and asked the professor to express remorse. Melissa Korn, WSJ, "Wisconsin High Court Backs Marquette Professor in Academic Free-Speech Case," 6 July 2018 The incredible shrinking General Electric must fill some of you with buyer’s remorse, just thinking about how tax dollars were used to woo a company that has done nothing but struggle since relocating its headquarters to Boston. Shirley Leung,, "Boston’s bet on GE will still pay off," 27 June 2018 Throughout his short life, XXXTentacion only weakly expressed remorse for his actions, alleged or admitted. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "How Will XXXTentacion Be Remembered?," 19 June 2018 The World Cup: Fox Sports may be experiencing a bit of buyer’s remorse after winning the rights to this monthlong event but lost some luster after the U.S. team failed to qualify for the first time since the Reagan administration. Chris Barton,, "Overrated/Underrated: The World Cup shines without us, and please stop helping others sell pancakes," 14 June 2018 The department's command staff was immediately directed to contact Valenti, who expressed remorse and had already taken the post down, the chief said. Jamiel Lynch And Darran Simon, CNN, "Officer suspended for online post about protest organized by Parkland survivor," 29 May 2018

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

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First Known Use of remorse

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for remorse

Middle English, from Anglo-French remors, from Medieval Latin remorsus, from Late Latin, act of biting again, from Latin remordēre to bite again, from re- + mordēre to bite — more at mordant

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Phrases Related to remorse

agonies of guilt/remorse/regret

Statistics for remorse

Last Updated

19 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for remorse

The first known use of remorse was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for remorse



English Language Learners Definition of remorse

: a feeling of being sorry for doing something bad or wrong in the past : a feeling of guilt


re·morse | \ri-ˈmȯrs \

Kids Definition of remorse

: deep regret for doing or saying something wrong She felt a pang of remorse after yelling.

Other Words from remorse

remorseful \-fəl \ adjective
remorseless \-ləs \ adjective

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one that holds something together

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