• synonyms


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.
  3. Obsolete. to become reconciled; agree.
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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.
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Origin of atone

First recorded in 1545–55; back formation from atonement
Related formsa·ton·a·ble, a·tone·a·ble, adjectivea·ton·er, nouna·ton·ing·ly, adverbun·a·toned, adjectiveun·a·ton·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for atones

redeem, apologize, outweigh, repair, square, appease, reconcile, pay, absolve, propitiate, redress, expiate, counterbalance, offset, answer, balance, correct, recompense

Examples from the Web for atones

Contemporary Examples of atones

Historical Examples of atones

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

  • The service you have done in discovering this atones for your fault.

    The Vintage

    Edward Frederic Benson

  • The weaker party, if it be wise, atones for its weakness by entrenchments.

    The Great Boer War

    Arthur Conan Doyle

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

    The Gentle Reader

    Samuel McChord Crothers

  • If he enjoys a kind farewell overnight, he atones for it by the coldest greeting in the morning.

British Dictionary definitions for atones


  1. (intr foll by for) to make amends or reparation (for a crime, sin, etc)
  2. (tr) to expiateto atone a guilt with repentance
  3. obsolete to be in or bring into agreement
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Derived Formsatonable or atoneable, adjectiveatoner, noun

Word Origin for atone

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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper