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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for atoning
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In his reticence he had the sense of atoning not only to the apparition but to Miss Hernshaw too.

    Questionable Shapes William Dean Howells
  • Where then the cherished hope of one day atoning for his wrongs to those who loved him!

    A Dish Of Orts George MacDonald
  • In his silent hours of remorse he had cherished it as one atoning circumstance.

  • He himself was not eating, for was he not atoning for his sins?

    Debts of Honor Maurus Jkai
  • Then, too, His atoning work on the cross has no meaning for us.

    The Work Of Christ A. C. Gaebelein
  • Evidently the hunters had brought in plenty of game and they were atoning for a fast.

    The Border Watch Joseph A. Altsheler
  • It was in this sprinkling of the blood that the atoning work was completed.

  • All has been "once and for ever" settled by the atoning death of the Lamb of God.

    Life and Times of David Charles Henry Mackintosh
  • Are there no means of atoning for the offense I have committed?

    Child of a Century, Complete Alfred de Musset
British Dictionary definitions for atoning


(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 atoning



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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