Synonyms & Antonyms of penitence

a feeling of responsibility for wrongdoing
  • the sincerity of the player's penitence is questionable—he began to express remorse only after the suspension was handed down

Synonyms for penitence

Words Related to penitence

Antonyms for penitence

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Frequently Asked Questions About penitence

How is the word penitence distinct from other similar nouns?

Some common synonyms of penitence are compunction, contrition, remorse, and repentance. While all these words 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

Where would compunction be a reasonable alternative to penitence?

While in some cases nearly identical to penitence, compunction implies a painful sting of conscience especially for contemplated wrongdoing.

had no compunctions about taking back what is mine

When could contrition be used to replace penitence?

The meanings of contrition and penitence largely overlap; however, contrition stresses the sorrowful regret that constitutes true penitence.

tearful expressions of contrition

When can remorse be used instead of penitence?

While the synonyms remorse and penitence are close in meaning, 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

In what contexts can repentance take the place of penitence?

The words repentance and penitence are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, repentance adds the implication of a resolve to change.

repentance accompanied by a complete change of character

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Time Traveler for penitence

Time Traveler

The first known use of penitence was in the 13th century

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Cite this Entry

“Penitence.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

More from Merriam-Webster on penitence

Dictionary: Definition of penitence

Nglish: Translation of penitence for Spanish Speakers

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