penance

[ pen-uh ns ]
/ ˈpɛn əns /

noun

a punishment undergone in token of penitence for sin.
a penitential discipline imposed by church authority.
a sacrament, as in the Roman Catholic Church, consisting in a confession of sin, made with sorrow and with the intention of amendment, followed by the forgiveness of the sin.

Origin of penance

1250–1300; Middle English penaunce < Anglo-French; Old French peneance < Latin paenitentia penitence

Related forms

pen·ance·less, adjective

Can be confused

penance pennants
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for penance

British Dictionary definitions for penance

penance

/ (ˈpɛnəns) /

noun

voluntary self-punishment to atone for a sin, crime, etc
a feeling of regret for one's wrongdoings
Christianity
  1. a punishment usually consisting of prayer, fasting, etc, undertaken voluntarily as an expression of penitence for sin
  2. a punishment of this kind imposed by church authority as a condition of absolution

verb

(tr) (of ecclesiastical authorities) to impose a penance upon (a sinner)

Word Origin for penance

C13: via Old French from Latin paenitentia repentance; related to Latin poena penalty
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

Culture definitions for penance

penance


Acts done to make up for sin. (See confession and indulgence.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.