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

Cantlon said McArthur has shown some remorse by pleading guilty to the charges. Rob Gillies, The Seattle Times, "Canada prosecutor: Serial killer staged photos of victims," 5 Feb. 2019 Now in a wheelchair and full of remorse, the 66-year-old killer is set to die by lethal injection on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Huntsville death chamber. Keri Blakinger, Houston Chronicle, "Houston serial killer Danny Bible scheduled for execution tonight," 27 June 2018 Rebag says the program gives clients the chance to refresh their closets on the regular...and eliminate that dreaded feeling of buyer’s remorse, for good. Lindsay Silberman, Town & Country, "This Website Will Let You Buy a Birkin, and Then Swap It For a New One 3 Months Later," 11 Oct. 2018 At the sentencing, Judge John F. Walter indicated that Spadafore’s lack of remorse for not warning first responders about the hazards played into the sentence, the U.S. attorney’s office said. Alene Tchekmedyian,, "A drug lab in Lake Elsinore exploded in November. The ex-cop behind it was just sentenced 5 years in prison," 19 June 2018 There is also some evidence of buyer's remorse on the cuts that already passed. Z. Byron Wolf, CNN, "Trump wants to cut taxes. Again. He just cut taxes.," 23 May 2018 That lump would grow into buyer's remorse when Hayes heard that, without the approval of Keystone's Alexander project, the developer would move forward with the original, big box Kite project. Emily Hopkins, Indianapolis Star, "Indianapolis Nora residents opposed a developer and won. Now, they've changed their minds.," 25 Feb. 2018 Like the novel, Tchaikovsky’s 1879 opera is a tale of love, regret and remorse told in a way that Russian authors and musicians seem to excel at. David Lyman, Detroit Free Press, "MOT's 2018-19 season includes 'Eugene Onegin,' 'Candide' and 'Grapes of Wrath'," 13 Apr. 2018 At least some American leaders are showing shame and remorse. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, "Belichick, like Bonds, might cheat himself out of Hall," 3 Feb. 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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Statistics for remorse

Last Updated

18 Apr 2019

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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 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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More from Merriam-Webster on remorse

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with remorse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for remorse

Spanish Central: Translation of remorse

Nglish: Translation of remorse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of remorse for Arabic Speakers

Comments on remorse

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


to move or proceed with twists and turns

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