: feeling or showing sorrow and remorse for a sin or shortcoming
Did You Know?
A person who is contrite may have rubbed someone the wrong way and caused bruised feelings -- and there is a hint about the origins of the word in that thought. "Contrite" came to English by way of Anglo-French from the Latin verb "conterere," meaning "to grind" or "to bruise." "Conterere," in turn, was formed by combining the prefix "com-" and "terere," meaning "to rub." If you've guessed that "trite" is a cousin of "contrite" (through "terere"), you are correct. Other "terere" descendants in English include "detriment" and "tribulation," and very possibly the familiar verb "try."
Test Your Memory: What word completes this sentence from a recent Word of the Day: "We were delighted to discover a new community garden where ________ had been a trash-filled vacant lot"? The answer is ...
Mom finally let Jamie off the hook for the prank when she believed he understood why she was angry and was truly contrite.
"A contrite, clean-shaven Joaquin Phoenix returned to David Letterman and his 'Late Show' last night to confirm that his February 2009 dead man walking appearance was in fact a stunt. He apologized, and Letterman -- who seemed to suggest that he was not in on the ruse -- happily accepted the apology." -- From an article by Verne Gay in Newsday (New York), September 23, 2010
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