1

sin

noun \ ˈsin \

Definition of sin

1 a : an offense against religious or moral law
b : an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible
  • it's a sin to waste food
c : an often serious shortcoming : fault
2 a : transgression of the law of God
b : a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God

More on the Meaning of sin

The word sin has been in use for well over a thousand years. Our current form of the word comes from the Middle English sinne, which is itself from the Old English syn. The original meanings of sin were largely concerned with religious matters ("an offense against religious or moral law"; "a transgression of the law of God"; "a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God"), as they still are today.

Sin does, however, have weakened, non-religious meanings. In its "an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible" meaning it is still a weighty word; it refers to actions of a kind that are likely to be strongly condemned. Far weaker is its "an often serious shortcoming" meaning, which can jokingly apply to a harmless act like eating one dessert too many, or can be paired with another word to refer to a failing of one kind or another, as in "literary/grammatical sins."

The word sinful, although it is most often found used in reference to behavior that is in some way wicked, may also be found denoting activities which are quite enjoyable (although still possibly guilt-inducing), such as eating "a sinful dessert."

Sin is also used in a fair number of compound nouns, some of which allow shades of sinfulness: a venial sin is much less serious than a mortal sin.

If you find yourself in need of a word with which to describe behavior or inclinations that are in some way questionable, but feel that sin is too strong a word, the English language has a wealth of options available. The Latin word peccare (“to sin”) has given rise to a number of English words that deal with sin, but which have less fire and brimstone in their meanings. We have peccadillo (“a slight offense”), peccable (which may mean either “liable to sin” or “susceptible to temptation”), and peccant (“violating a principle or rule, as of taste or propriety”).

Origin and Etymology of sin

Middle English sinne, from Old English synn; akin to Old High German sunta sin and probably to Latin sont-, sons guilty, est is — more at is

Synonym Discussion of sin

offense, sin, vice, crime, scandal mean a transgression of law. offense applies to the infraction of any law, rule, or code.
    • at that school no offense went unpunished
sin implies an offense against moral or religious law.
    • the sin of blasphemy
vice applies to a habit or practice that degrades or corrupts.
    • regarded gambling as a vice
crime implies a serious offense punishable by the law of the state.
    • the crime of murder
scandal applies to an offense that outrages the public conscience.
    • a career ruined by a sex scandal

2

sin

verb

Definition of sin

sinned; sinning
1 : to commit a sin
2 : to commit an offense or fault

Examples of sin in a Sentence

  1. Forgive me, for I have sinned.

  2. bless me, Father, for I have sinned

First Known Use of sin

before 12th century

in the meaning defined at sense 1

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sin Synonyms

Near Antonyms

forgive, justify, pardon;

regret, repent, rue;

Phrases

break the law, fall from grace;

Other Religion (Eastern and Other) Terms


3

sin

noun \ ˈsēn , ˈsin \

Definition of sin

: the 21st letter of the Hebrew alphabet — see Alphabet Table

Origin and Etymology of sin

Hebrew śin

Other Alphabet Terms


4

sin

abbreviation

Definition of sin

sine


SIN Defined for English Language Learners

sin

Definition of sin for English Language Learners

  • : to do something that is considered wrong according to religious or moral law : to commit a sin


SIN Defined for Kids

1

sin

noun \ ˈsin \

Definition of sin for Students

1 : an action that breaks a religious law
2 : an action that is or is felt to be bad
  • Wasting food is a sin.

2

sin

verb

Definition of sin for Students

sinned; sinning
: to do something that breaks a religious law or is felt to be bad

sinner

\ˈsi-nər\ noun


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