Definition of penitential in US English:

penitential

adjective

  • Relating to or expressing penitence or penance.

    ‘penitential tears’
    • ‘At the 7.30 pm mass on Saturday evening and at the 12 noon mass on Sunday, a penitential Service will take place during the mass.’
    • ‘These windows have bright red and orange curtains; the clash with the penitential drabness of the rest of the building is peculiar.’
    • ‘This directed Gauguin's search for sacred art away from our world of afflictions, through a penitential view of personal martyrdom to a symbolist, dreamlike transcendence available to initiates alone.’
    • ‘A penitential service for the boys and girls and anyone else wishing to take part will be held in Holy Cross church, Stradbally, on Monday, May 9, at 7.30 p.m.’
    • ‘To begin with, we notice only the presence of two penitent saints, Mary Magdalene on the right identified by her ointment jar, and Jerome on the left in penitential dress, though without the usual stone that he employed to beat himself.’
    • ‘In earlier ages a penitential procession often followed the rite of the distribution of the ashes, but this is not now prescribed.’
    • ‘The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to them, nothing should be imposed on the dying.’
    • ‘Some will say it was a remarkable act of self denial akin to the penitential days of renunciation in Biblical times.’
    • ‘They learn of such circumstances through a variety of church communications, including prayer requests, requests for pastoral counsel, penitential communications, and even church gossip.’
    • ‘Rose expresses joy that half a penitential season is over, and is used on the 3rd Sunday of Advent and 4th Sunday of Lent.’
    • ‘Chinese emperors used to issue a penitential decree taking the blame for misgovernment or natural calamities.’
    • ‘I noticed the penitential beds where the pilgrims who come for three days walk barefoot and also saw the dormitories where people sleep.’
    • ‘Waiting for forty days to read your review seems positively penitential!’
    • ‘Tears, blood and bread combine to sacramentalize the penitential psyche so that the weeping heart undergoes a kind of reverse alchemy, the alembic of Eucharistic topoi dispersing the self among the dust and dew shrouded by night sky.’
    • ‘After 1552, ‘the Angelics ceased to be missionaries, governors of charitable institutions, and penitential examples of religious zeal.’’
    • ‘According to tradition, Mary Magdalen spent the thirty years as a hermit in the desert devoted to penitential contemplation.’
    • ‘There will be a service of light, a penitential rite for the boys and girls and adults and finally a rehearsal for all who will be taking part in the confirmation ceremony on February 22.’
    • ‘Instead, the rites of Levitical sacrifice are inaugurated and the priesthood is instituted as a sort of permanent penitential reminder to the people of their sinfulness.’
    • ‘There will be a penitential service in the Dominican Church tonight at 8 pm and all are welcome to attend.’
    • ‘The virtual disappearance of the traditional hearing of confessions in the box has led to the penitential services being the alternative way.’

Origin

Late 15th century: from late Latin paenitentialis, from Latin paenitentia ‘repentance’.

Pronunciation

penitential

/ˌpenəˈten(t)SHəl//ˌpɛnəˈtɛn(t)ʃəl/