Definition of penitence in US English:



  • The action of feeling or showing sorrow and regret for having done wrong; repentance.

    ‘a public display of penitence’
    • ‘We are, it seems, so far gone in sin and decadence that no repentance or penitence can be adequate.’
    • ‘Such is his infinite penitence and regret that he looks out on the world and the bereaved family through a window of tears.’
    • ‘The rituals of confession, penitence and absolution provided the time-honoured solutions.’
    • ‘There was something strange, almost timeless, about this stream of people walking down where the road had been, not angry, not complaining, as though paying penitence for crimes no one could identify.’
    • ‘They were intended to move the will of the one praying not only to compunction for sin and penitence, but to a desire for God and confidence in God's love.’
    repentance, contrition, compunction, regret, remorse, remorsefulness, ruefulness, pangs of conscience, self-reproach, contriteness, self-accusation, shame, sorrow, guilt
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