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[uh-tohn] /əˈtoʊn/
verb (used without object), atoned, atoning.
to make amends or reparation, as for an offense or a crime, or for an offender (usually followed by for):
to atone for one's sins.
to make up, as for errors or deficiencies (usually followed by for):
to atone for one's failings.
Obsolete. to become reconciled; agree.
verb (used with object), atoned, atoning.
to make amends for; expiate:
He atoned his sins.
Obsolete. to bring into unity, harmony, concord, etc.
Origin of atone
First recorded in 1545-55; back formation from atonement
Related forms
atonable, atoneable, adjective
atoner, noun
atoningly, adverb
unatoned, adjective
unatoning, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for atones
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Should he be wicked or frantic enough to make the attempt, he atones for it, with the certain loss of wealth, liberty or life.

  • Its variety and symmetry.painters, and see if it atones for the deficiencies of the stems.

  • He atones for being occasionally somewhat over-dressed, by being always absolutely over-educated.

  • But Fielding more than atones for all the rest by the creation of Parson Adams.

    The Gentle Reader Samuel McChord Crothers
  • It also atones for sins, and lessens the purgatorial period after death; this is another.

  • A malefactor who atones for making your writing nonsense by permitting the compositor to make it unintelligible.

    The Devil's Dictionary Ambrose Bierce
  • Nemours renews his vows and entreaties; the Princess refuses his hand, and atones for her error in cloistered seclusion.

  • At night we found our bag of atones still held us very well, and we slept tranquilly.

    The Malay Archipelago Alfred Russell Wallace
  • The weaker party, if it be wise, atones for its weakness by entrenchments.

    The Great Boer War Arthur Conan Doyle
British Dictionary definitions for atones


(intransitive) foll by for. to make amends or reparation (for a crime, sin, etc)
(transitive) to expiate: to atone a guilt with repentance
(obsolete) to be in or bring into agreement
Derived Forms
atonable, atoneable, adjective
atoner, noun
Word Origin
C16: back formation from atonement
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for atones



1550s, from adverbial phrase atonen (c.1300) "in accord," literally "at one," a contraction of at and one. It retains the older pronunciation of one. The phrase perhaps is modeled on Latin adunare "unite," from ad- "to, at" (see ad-) + unum "one." Related: Atoned; atoning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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