re·​pen·​tance ri-ˈpen-tᵊn(t)s How to pronounce repentance (audio)
: the action or process of repenting especially for misdeeds or moral shortcomings
Choose the Right Synonym for repentance

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

Examples of repentance in a Sentence

preached that repentance was the first step on the path of redemption
Recent Examples on the Web But Christmas soon teams up with one of the many first-time cast members, Thai action star Tony Jaa (playing an Expendable-type operative temporarily retired into Buddhist-style repentance). Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, 21 Sep. 2023 Netanyahu, who cannot bear to express repentance or regret for his government’s failure, or even to show compassion for the bereaved—something that, many Israelis noted, Biden was able to do—is unlikely to step down or step back. David Remnick, The New Yorker, 28 Oct. 2023 Abstinence from earthly and material activities – to whatever degree performed – symbolizes a cleansing of the spirit so that one’s commitment toward repentance is true and pure. Sofia Barrett, CNN, 24 Sep. 2023 On the Jewish day of repentance, Heard on the Street's mind was fixed on transgressions that took place two and a half decades ago. WSJ, 26 Sep. 2023 Yom Kippur is the culmination of the high holidays, a period of 10 days of repentance. Alesandra Dubin, Good Housekeeping, 22 Aug. 2023 They were struck by an interview with a male anchor who recalled that world’s rampant sexism without a trace of repentance. Chris Vognar, Los Angeles Times, 21 Aug. 2023 Even the gangster specialists at Warner Bros. went straight with an act of repentance entitled G-Men (1935). Thomas Doherty, The Hollywood Reporter, 7 July 2023 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Southern Living Editors, Southern Living, 20 June 2023 See More

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

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of repentance was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near repentance

Cite this Entry

“Repentance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


re·​pen·​tance ri-ˈpent-ᵊn(t)s How to pronounce repentance (audio)
: the action or process of repenting especially for one's sins

More from Merriam-Webster on repentance

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