[ uh-tohn ]
See synonyms for: atoneatoningatonableatoneable on

verb (used without object),a·toned, a·ton·ing.
  1. 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.

  2. to make up, as for errors or deficiencies (usually followed by for): to atone for one's failings.

  1. Obsolete. to become reconciled; agree.

verb (used with object),a·toned, a·ton·ing.
  1. to make amends for; expiate: He atoned his sins.

  2. Obsolete. to bring into unity, harmony, concord, etc.

Origin of atone

First recorded in 1545–55; back formation from atonement

Other words from atone

  • a·ton·a·ble, a·tone·a·ble, adjective
  • a·ton·er, noun
  • a·ton·ing·ly, adverb
  • un·a·toned, adjective
  • un·a·ton·ing, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use atone in a sentence

  • Andrew Sullivan, for my money, has atoned in ways Hitchens never did (and Kelly never had the chance to).

    Michael Kelly and the War | Michael Tomasky | April 4, 2013 | THE DAILY BEAST
  • More recently, he and his wife, Lynne, have atoned for their tight-fistedness.

    The Stingiest Politicians | The Daily Beast | April 16, 2010 | THE DAILY BEAST
  • With or amongst the Romanists to leave the shore is an act of disbelief which must be atoned for by penance or punishment.

  • Whatever deficiencies there may have been in their early training were largely atoned for by native energy and force of character.

  • If he had forgotten her in the excitement of his interview, he atoned for it by a vivid blush.

  • Miss Brayton had little to say, but her quietness was more than atoned for by the vivacity of Sadie and Margaret.

    The Pony Rider Boys in Texas | Frank Gee Patchin
  • Why should he punish a fault committed so many years ago, and atoned for by twenty years of devotion and suffering?

    File No. 113 | Emile Gaboriau

British Dictionary definitions for atone


/ (əˈtəʊn) /

  1. (intr foll by for) to make amends or reparation (for a crime, sin, etc)

  2. (tr) to expiate: to atone a guilt with repentance

  1. obsolete to be in or bring into agreement

Origin of atone

C16: back formation from atonement

Derived forms of atone

  • atonable or atoneable, adjective
  • atoner, noun

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with atone


In agreement, in harmony, as in John and Pat were at one on every subject except her cat, which made him sneeze, or Springtime always makes me feel at one with nature. [1300s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.