[ pen-i-ten-shuhl ]
See synonyms for penitential on
  1. of, pertaining to, proceeding from, or expressive of penitence or repentance.

  1. 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

Other words from penitential

  • pen·i·ten·tial·ly, adverb
  • un·pen·i·ten·tial, adjective
  • un·pen·i·ten·tial·ly, adverb

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

How to use penitential in a sentence

  • Very devoted, but a "wooden" woman, a "veritable penitential brush."

    Repertory Of The Comedie Humaine, Complete, A -- Z | Anatole Cerfberr and Jules Franois Christophe
  • Condemned to be strangled, he heard the sentence without a murmur, and went to his death singing the penitential psalms.

    Belgium | George W. T. (George William Thomson) Omond
  • I ought to add that he has tried to make reparation, and is apparently contrite to the limit of his penitential capacity.

  • It was her first openly penitential utterance in his presence, and her cheeks were faintly reddened.

    Rhoda Fleming, Complete | George Meredith
  • On his death-bed the conqueror Henry V was listening to the priests repeating the penitential psalms.

British Dictionary definitions for penitential


/ (ˌpɛnɪˈtɛnʃəl) /

  1. of, showing, or constituting penance

  1. mainly RC Church a book or compilation of instructions for confessors

  2. a less common word for penitent (def. 2), penitent (def. 3)

Derived forms of penitential

  • penitentially, 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