[pen-i-tuh ns]


the state of being penitent; regret for one's wrongdoing or sinning; contrition; repentance.

Origin of penitence

1150–1200; Middle English (< Old French) < Medieval Latin pēnitentia, Latin paenitentia a regretting. See penitent, -ence

Synonyms for penitence

See regret. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for penitence

Contemporary Examples of penitence

Historical Examples of penitence

  • In vain the Woman Perfect struggled to subdue her mirth to penitence.

  • I despatched the note, and she was full of penitence, and gratitude, and tears.

  • The mother forbade me the house, nor did Jean show that penitence that might have been expected.

  • Repent, and we will laugh at your penitence as a shallow deception.

    Henry Dunbar

    M. E. Braddon

  • It must not be by our means; nay, if we could win him back to penitence, we should be bound to love him yet.

    Barnaby Rudge

    Charles Dickens

Word Origin and History for penitence

c.1200, from Old French penitence (11c.) and directly from Latin paenitentia "repentance," noun of condition from paenitentum (nominative paenitens) "penitent," present participle of paenitere "cause or feel regret," probably originally "is not enough, is unsatisfactory," from paene "nearby, almost."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper