[ pen-i-tuhnt ]
See synonyms for: penitentpenitents on

  1. feeling or expressing sorrow for sin or wrongdoing and disposed to atonement and amendment; repentant; contrite.

  1. a penitent person.

  2. Roman Catholic Church. a person who confesses sin and submits to a penance.

Origin of penitent

1325–75; Middle English <Medieval Latin pēnitent-,Latin paenitent- (stem of paenitēns), present participle of paenitēre to regret; replacing Middle English penaunt<Anglo-French; see penance

Other words for penitent

Opposites for penitent

Other words from penitent

  • pen·i·tent·ly, adverb
  • non·pen·i·tent, adjective, noun
  • un·pen·i·tent, adjective
  • un·pen·i·tent·ly, adverb

Words Nearby penitent Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use penitent in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for penitent


/ (ˈpɛnɪtənt) /

  1. feeling regret for one's sins; repentant

  1. a person who is penitent

  2. Christianity

    • a person who repents his sins and seeks forgiveness for them

    • RC Church a person who confesses his sins to a priest and submits to a penance imposed by him

Origin of penitent

C14: from Church Latin paenitēns regretting, from paenitēre to repent, of obscure origin

Derived forms of penitent

  • penitence, noun
  • penitently, adverb

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