re·​morse | \ ri-ˈmȯrs How to pronounce remorse (audio) \

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 In his decision, Judge Kelly cited Messrs. Nordean and Biggs’ lack of apparent remorse and described their alleged actions challenging the election results in stark terms. Rachael Levy, WSJ, "Proud Boys Leaders Ordered Detained Ahead of Trial Over Capitol Riot," 19 Apr. 2021 In this definition, the emphasis is not on White remorse but on fundamental change. John Blake, CNN, "George Floyd's death did not spark a racial reckoning," 18 Apr. 2021 Not once did Carrillo express pity or remorse over the deaths of Sgt. oregonlive, "How an active duty airman tried to start a civil war," 17 Apr. 2021 Meanwhile, panic buyers and coastal refugees fleeing large cities bought homes sight unseen, only to experienced buyer's remorse later. USA Today, "Before the pandemic ketchup squeeze: A year of COVID-19 product shortages and the items we struggled to find," 15 Apr. 2021 Not once did Carrillo express pity or remorse over the deaths of Sgt. ProPublica, "“I Felt Hate More Than Anything”: How an Active Duty Airman Tried to Start a Civil War," 14 Apr. 2021 But taking the stand could also give the jury the opportunity to see any remorse or sympathy Chauvin might feel., "Judge refuses request to acquit Derek Chauvin in George Floyd’s death," 14 Apr. 2021 Sam said that if Bill Cosby came clean and showed genuine remorse and contrition, he would still be ruined, and unforgiven. Keith C. Burris, Star Tribune, "Is there any shot at redemption these days in American lives?," 14 Apr. 2021 But taking the stand could also give the jury the opportunity to see any remorse or sympathy Chauvin might feel., "Derek Chauvin trial: Judge refuses request to acquit former Minneapolis officer in George Floyd’s death," 14 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for remorse

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for remorse

Last Updated

28 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Remorse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce remorse (audio) \

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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Comments on remorse

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