Definition of apologetic in English:



  • 1Expressing or showing regretful acknowledgement of an offence or failure.

    ‘she was very apologetic about the whole incident’
    ‘an apologetic smile’
    • ‘He is apologetic for his inability to produce snappy soundbites to sum up these feelings, but I'm glad: this is a heartfelt, uncontainable outburst.’
    • ‘For all the permutations that produced, the music seemed slightly apologetic.’
    • ‘The letter is written in an apologetic tone, apparently because the return of the books is overdue.’
    • ‘The shrug is hardly perceptible, the smile almost apologetic.’
    • ‘‘As much as I would love to, I have already made plans, sorry,’ I said, giving him an apologetic smile.’
    • ‘She shoots me and my wife an apologetic look before smiling at the kids and closing the door.’
    • ‘He gave her a smile that was almost apologetic, then he shrugged.’
    • ‘Diana huffed and I gave her an apologetic smile.’
    • ‘Liz's face altered from smiling and cheerful to regretful and apologetic.’
    • ‘I also took this approach because I was not apologetic about my creative product.’
    • ‘We are not apologetic about her choice.’
    • ‘Her somewhat apologetic stance is overridden by her clear sense of feeling justified in what she is doing.’
    • ‘An apologetic commuter-rail crew.’
    • ‘When Skye glared at him, he tried an apologetic smile.’
    • ‘"Don't be apologetic, Trunk."’
    • ‘Defending, the lawyer said his client was apologetic and very much regretted the incident.’
    • ‘Trying his best to be polite without having too say too much, Phillip pushed his way through the crowd, giving apologetic smiles to indignant ladies being pushed.’
    • ‘The typist smiles to himself as the story returns like an apologetic lover, penitent, regretful and contrite.’
    • ‘Richard didn't look apologetic in the least. - Why are you so formal?’
    • ‘He's immediately apologetic.’
    regretful, full of regret, sorry, contrite, remorseful, penitent, repentant, rueful, deprecatory, self-reproachful
    conscience-stricken, red-faced, shamefaced, sheepish, hangdog, ashamed, in sackcloth and ashes
    View synonyms
  • 2Constituting a formal defence or justification of a theory or doctrine.

    ‘the apologetic proposition that production for profit is the same thing as production for need’
    • ‘Perhaps the most distasteful element of Romance is its attempt to justify its sexual explicitness with these vaguely apologetic ruminations on the mind/body split.’
    • ‘That is the apologetic sermon considering the situation of various religions.’
    • ‘The apologetic justification of church division has in many cases been a source of heated confessional intolerance.’
    • ‘There are not several types of sermons, for example, expository, historical, doctrinal, moral, apologetic, and topical.’
    • ‘He proposed that the apologetic task is to show a person how their worldview contradicts their own common sense data, and how that data really fits within a Christian worldview.’
    • ‘In this essay, I wish to make a case for the proper order of discussion topics in the apologetic argument.’


Late Middle English (as a noun denoting a formal justification): from French apologétique or late Latin apologeticus, from Greek apologētikos, from apologeisthei speak in one's own defence, from apologia (see apology). The current sense dates from the mid 19th century.