re·​pen·​tance | \ ri-ˈpen-tᵊn(t)s How to pronounce repentance (audio) \

Definition of repentance

: 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 Looming above all, of course, was the boundless shame of the Third Reich, which left many Germans intent on moral repentance. Alec Macgillis, ProPublica, 16 Mar. 2022 The forward move, the authors say, cannot be solely for repentance – but restitution, too. Joan Taylor, The Christian Science Monitor, 23 Mar. 2022 The problem is, that shift is often framed as repentance, with punishing food rules that are big on promises but are ultimately unsustainable, even damaging. Washington Post, 3 Jan. 2022 Lent is underway with its blend of repentance (for the faithful) and cheap fried fish plates. Xander Peters, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 Mar. 2022 Ash Wednesday – officially known as the Day of Ashes – is a day of repentance, when Christians confess their sins and profess their devotion to God. Dwight Adams, USA TODAY, 2 Mar. 2022 The expansive musical piece meditates on the meaning of repentance and offers optimism for the future. oregonlive, 23 Feb. 2022 Roof’s lack of repentance and the willingness to forgive Roof shown by some of the survivors and relatives of people killed that day. Angela Harrelson, ELLE, 12 Feb. 2022 The protagonist, Severian, an ex-torturer on the path of repentance, must save his world from a dying sun. Gregory Barber, Wired, 10 Feb. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of repentance

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Learn More About repentance

Time Traveler for repentance

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near repentance




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for repentance

Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Repentance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jul. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for repentance


re·​pen·​tance | \ ri-ˈpen-tᵊns How to pronounce repentance (audio) \

Kids Definition of repentance

: the action or process of acknowledging regret for having done something wrong

More from Merriam-Webster on repentance

Nglish: Translation of repentance for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of repentance for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about repentance


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!