Definition of atonement in English:



mass noun
  • 1The action of making amends for a wrong or injury.

    ‘he submitted his resignation as an act of atonement’
    • ‘Their chance for atonement came on Monday night when they travelled to Redlands to take on the Rovers in a rescheduled match from the washed-out Round 9.’
    • ‘Now they have an opportunity to underscore that atonement with a few well-placed phone calls in defense of democracy and the rule of law.’
    • ‘Their pacifist constitution is both atonement for a bloody past and a defining national characteristic.’
    • ‘Though what she didn't know, and what made her observation all the more accurate, was that I had drunk too much whisky the night before and thus was engaged in a classic Calvinist act of atonement.’
    • ‘Nashe's attitude to his fate is fatalistic, he accepts that his freedom is taken from him and the building of the wall becomes a kind of atonement.’
    • ‘But this book, McEwan's grandest and most ambitious yet, is much more than the story of a single act of atonement.’
    • ‘For his atonement he was given a 25 year to life sentence: he was spared the death penalty.’
    • ‘He is so nicknamed because he never stops talking of Crime and Punishment, guilt and atonement.’
    • ‘Yet that still does not amount to full atonement for what he did.’
    • ‘Is it an act of atonement, manipulation, or self preservation?’
    • ‘Like most of us, Jeannie had grown up believing that there was something intrinsically wrong with her and that, by way of atonement and being accepted, she had to work hard to be good.’
    • ‘They are still awaiting some kind of atonement for the excesses of the late 1990s and beyond.’
    • ‘Most of all you felt they looked like a team on a mission of atonement.’
    • ‘It is precisely here where the peculiarities of atonement and forgiveness may have to be considered, along with a specific reference to the circumstances.’
    • ‘The December after he died I gave my deer rifle back to the man from whom Papa bought it and I actively contribute to various wildlife funds as an act of atonement.’
    • ‘What emerges from this sulphurous brew is hugely funny and upsetting - a tale of disappointed revenge and unexpected atonement.’
    • ‘We chat for 45 minutes, touching on atonement, forgiveness and incarceration.’
    • ‘One simple conclusion would be that this is a desire for atonement taken too far.’
    • ‘Compassionate assistance cannot, of course, be a substitute for the punishment of criminal acts or atonement for wrongdoing.’
    • ‘It is an epic tale of love and war and atonement, which traces one man's long journey home and the woman who waits for him.’
    1. 1.1 (in religious contexts) reparation or expiation for sin.
      ‘an annual ceremony of confession and atonement for sin’
      • ‘Nonetheless, the Christian doctrine of sin and atonement brought through Jesus' death goes way beyond the symbolism of the scapegoat.’
      • ‘The most radical effort of this kind is his revision of the doctrines of atonement and incarnation.’
      • ‘Shouldn't God judge man after he has repented, after there has been atonement for his sins?’
      • ‘In the Levitical Law, the High Priest was required to offer blood sacrifices as an atonement for sins, and confess man's sins to God.’
      • ‘The guilt of their sin was conveyed to the little lamb, and then the sinner killed the lamb, and the blood of that lamb was sprinkled on the altar to make atonement for sin.’
      • ‘Put simply, Christ was an innocent substitute, sacrificed to make atonement for sin.’
      • ‘To pursue this line of thought further would be to construct a whole theology of redemption and atonement.’
      • ‘He is the High Priest who makes full and final atonement for the sins of His people.’
      • ‘Luther knew the depths of sin in his own heart and the need for daily atonement.’
      • ‘As already stated, Roman Catholics believe that Christ is sacrificed anew in the Mass and that partaking of the elements grants atonement.’
      • ‘Mithra was slain upon a cross in Persia to make atonement for humankind and take away the sins of the world.’
      • ‘The two offerings together symbolized a community of people at peace with God because atonement for sins had been made.’
      • ‘God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood.’
      • ‘Prayer, reading, and atonement grew into a way of life that Matt managed to keep hidden.’
      • ‘This is not because we have earned God's favor but simply because we belong to Christ and his sacrifice has made perfect atonement for our sin.’
      • ‘The Mapuche Indians in Chile still sacrifice a white lamb without blemish as an atonement for sin.’
      • ‘They receive a free pardon from God for all their sins - past, present and future - through the death of Christ as an offering and atonement for sin.’
      • ‘His death made a perfect and full atonement for sin.’
      • ‘So there is also a loss of the fear of God, and the judgement to come, and the precious atonement for our sins.’
      • ‘How do you define the nature of that atonement or propitiation which Jesus Christ made?’
      • ‘Yom Kippur begins tonight, a time of atonement for Jews.’
      • ‘There he cleansed the temple, prefiguring his great atonement for sin, making us fit for communion with God.’
      • ‘They deny both the necessity and the validity of atonement by the death of the Cross, and affirm that its propitiation is not necessary to salvation.’
      • ‘It is but one of several theories of atonement that have popped up in the history of the Church.’
      • ‘For instance, they do not ask whose interests are served through doctrines of universal salvation or limited atonement.’
      reparation, compensation, recompense, payment, repayment, redress, restitution, indemnity, indemnification, expiation, penance, redemption
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Christian Theology The reconciliation of God and mankind through Jesus Christ.
      • ‘Such a question requires only a basic understanding of the Atonement to answer.’
      • ‘As soon as Christians allow for death, suffering, and disease before sin, then the whole foundations of the message of the Cross and the Atonement have been destroyed.’
      • ‘Stott seeks out to explain the significance of the Cross and answers the objections commonly brought against Biblical teaching on the atonement.’
      • ‘Yet at the same time they deny the doctrine of the Trinity, of the Incarnation, of the Atonement, and of justification by faith alone.’
      • ‘A number of theologians have recently articulated a vision of the atonement in similar images.’
      • ‘The result has been some fascinating studies of such topics as sin, the Atonement, and the Incarnation.’
      • ‘Regarding the Atonement, he asked: ‘How can the guilt of one man be expiated by the death of another who is sinless - if indeed one may speak of a sinless man at all?’’


Early 16th century (denoting unity or reconciliation, especially between God and man): from at one + -ment, influenced by medieval Latin adunamentum ‘unity’, and earlier onement from an obsolete verb one ‘to unite’.