Definition of contrition in English:



mass noun
  • 1The state of feeling remorseful and penitent.

    ‘to show contrition for his crime he offered to do community service’
    • ‘It was a noteworthy feature of your evidence that you are unrepentant and show not the least sign of contrition, preferring instead to blame everyone else, including the customers and their families and friends.’
    • ‘A double killer had shown no remorse or contrition for murdering two drug dealers in his home, a judge said yesterday as he imposed concurrent life sentences.’
    • ‘Participation in these gatherings is simply not consonant with the depression and contrition that the mourner experiences.’
    • ‘What I don't understand about it is that I imagine that the forgiveness spoken about is forgiveness that is called for - and that is most typically where one understands the genuine contrition of the other person.’
    • ‘‘Champions have to learn to play with pain - to handle their contrition with both dignity and courage,’ he told me.’
    • ‘In other areas, however, such public contrition has been sadly lacking.’
    • ‘Such prisoners will probably not express contrition or remorse or sympathy for any victim.’
    • ‘We should avoid, however, acts of apparent contrition that are, in fact, acts of detraction against our forebears in the faith.’
    • ‘The offender may not demonstrate genuine, or even adequate, contrition or repentance.’
    • ‘It is beyond question that contrition or remorse are factors which will usually operate in the accused's favour; but not always.’
    • ‘The hollowness of his contrition was particular acute when he stumbled over the carefully prepared words where he was to tell the media that he had learnt an important lesson about his responsibility as a role model for kids.’
    • ‘He answers how he wishes to answer; he is contrite without offering contrition.’
    • ‘Mitigating factors relating to the offender may include: the offender's age; clear evidence or remorse or contrition; a timely plea of guilt.’
    • ‘Is there true contrition and sincere forgiveness, or has there been merely an exchange of lip service, a convenient pact to blur the past for the sake of a future which, in turn, lacks a clear vision?’
    • ‘The never-ending show of contrition, pathos, sadness and regret is more than reality drama.’
    • ‘I can be quite hard and cruel sometimes, I know that, but I do feel contrition and try to make amends.’
    • ‘If the wrongdoer has come to the point of realizing his wrong, then one hopes there will be remorse, or at least some contrition or sorrow.’
    • ‘Lincoln regularly used the language of scripture, but in a way that called both sides in the Civil War to contrition and repentance.’
    • ‘His contrition and his guilt do not help to free him from his bondage, though.’
    • ‘A variation on this theme was that the prisoner had reformed or had shown sufficient contrition for their crime.’
    • ‘If someone steals my pen and then asks me to forgive him, unless he returns my pen the sincerity of his contrition and confession will be considered to be nil.’
    • ‘Their success seemed to depend on their intensity, and their intensity depended on the rhetorical ability of the preacher to inspire a sense of contrition for past offenses.’
    remorse, remorsefulness, repentance, penitence, sorrow, sorrowfulness, regret, contriteness, ruefulness, pangs of conscience, prickings of conscience
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (in the Roman Catholic Church) the repentance of past sins during or after confession.
      ‘prayers of contrition’
      • ‘It is not the same where confession and contrition are concerned; but satisfaction has to do with the exterior act, and here one can make use of instruments, a category under which friends are included.’
      • ‘Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without Church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without contrition.’
      • ‘In Catholic theology, the requirements are: contrition, confession and satisfaction.’
      • ‘When did liturgies of contrition and dependence become examples of negative thinking?’
      • ‘What if contrition is self-centered and selfish, aimed at securing forgiveness?’
      • ‘If they died without contrition they would go to hell, where prayers could not assist them.’


Middle English: via Old French from late Latin contritio(n-), from contrit- ‘ground down’, from the verb conterere (see contrite).