Definition of atonement in US English:



  • 1Reparation for a wrong or injury.

    ‘she wanted to make atonement for her husband's behavior’
    • ‘Most of all you felt they looked like a team on a mission of atonement.’
    • ‘What emerges from this sulphurous brew is hugely funny and upsetting - a tale of disappointed revenge and unexpected atonement.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But this book, McEwan's grandest and most ambitious yet, is much more than the story of a single act 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.’
    • ‘Is it an act of atonement, manipulation, or self preservation?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Compassionate assistance cannot, of course, be a substitute for the punishment of criminal acts or atonement for wrongdoing.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘One simple conclusion would be that this is a desire for atonement taken too far.’
    • ‘Their pacifist constitution is both atonement for a bloody past and a defining national characteristic.’
    • ‘He is so nicknamed because he never stops talking of Crime and Punishment, guilt and atonement.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Yet that still does not amount to full atonement for what he did.’
    • ‘For his atonement he was given a 25 year to life sentence: he was spared the death penalty.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We chat for 45 minutes, touching on atonement, forgiveness and incarceration.’
    • ‘They are still awaiting some kind of atonement for the excesses of the late 1990s and beyond.’
    1. 1.1 (in religious contexts) reparation or expiation for sin.
      ‘an annual ceremony of confession and 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.’
      • ‘So there is also a loss of the fear of God, and the judgement to come, and the precious atonement for our sins.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Mapuche Indians in Chile still sacrifice a white lamb without blemish as an atonement for sin.’
      • ‘Mithra was slain upon a cross in Persia to make atonement for humankind and take away the sins of the world.’
      • ‘For instance, they do not ask whose interests are served through doctrines of universal salvation or limited atonement.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Nonetheless, the Christian doctrine of sin and atonement brought through Jesus' death goes way beyond the symbolism of the scapegoat.’
      • ‘The two offerings together symbolized a community of people at peace with God because atonement for sins had been made.’
      • ‘Put simply, Christ was an innocent substitute, sacrificed to make atonement for sin.’
      • ‘The most radical effort of this kind is his revision of the doctrines of atonement and incarnation.’
      • ‘Yom Kippur begins tonight, a time of atonement for Jews.’
      • ‘To pursue this line of thought further would be to construct a whole theology of redemption and atonement.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There he cleansed the temple, prefiguring his great atonement for sin, making us fit for communion with God.’
      • ‘As already stated, Roman Catholics believe that Christ is sacrificed anew in the Mass and that partaking of the elements grants atonement.’
      • ‘Prayer, reading, and atonement grew into a way of life that Matt managed to keep hidden.’
      • ‘Shouldn't God judge man after he has repented, after there has been atonement for his sins?’
      • ‘It is but one of several theories of atonement that have popped up in the history of the Church.’
      • ‘His death made a perfect and full atonement for sin.’
      • ‘He is the High Priest who makes full and final atonement for the sins of His people.’
      • ‘How do you define the nature of that atonement or propitiation which Jesus Christ made?’
      • ‘Luther knew the depths of sin in his own heart and the need for daily atonement.’
      • ‘God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood.’
      • ‘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.’
      reparation, compensation, recompense, payment, repayment, redress, restitution, indemnity, indemnification, expiation, penance, redemption
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2the AtonementChristian Theology The reconciliation of God and humankind through Jesus Christ.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Such a question requires only a basic understanding of the Atonement to answer.’
      • ‘Yet at the same time they deny the doctrine of the Trinity, of the Incarnation, of the Atonement, and of justification by faith alone.’
      • ‘Stott seeks out to explain the significance of the Cross and answers the objections commonly brought against Biblical teaching on the atonement.’
      • ‘The result has been some fascinating studies of such topics as sin, the Atonement, and the Incarnation.’
      • ‘A number of theologians have recently articulated a vision of the atonement in similar images.’
      • ‘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’.