[pen-i-ten-shuh l]


of, pertaining to, proceeding from, or expressive of penitence or repentance.


a book or code of canons relating to penance, its imposition, etc.

Origin of penitential

1500–10; < Medieval Latin pēnitēntiālis, Late Latin paenitēntiālis. See penitent, -ial
Related formspen·i·ten·tial·ly, adverbun·pen·i·ten·tial, adjectiveun·pen·i·ten·tial·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for penitential

Historical Examples of penitential

  • He cannot even command the price of a penitential three-fingers of rye.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service

  • I could tell his intonation of a penitential psalm among a thousand.

    Simon Dale

    Anthony Hope

  • In all the penitential discipline of the church also bond and free were on an equality.


    William Graham Sumner

  • It was a kind of penitential class for dunces during play‑time.

    The Martian

    George Du Maurier

  • I learnt from the monk that he was a Trappist, and that he was making a penitential tour.


    George Sand

British Dictionary definitions for penitential



of, showing, or constituting penance


mainly RC Church a book or compilation of instructions for confessors
a less common word for penitent (def. 2), penitent (def. 3)
Derived Formspenitentially, 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

Word Origin and History for penitential

c.1500, from Medieval Latin penitentialis, from Latin paenitentia "repentance" (see penitence).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper