penitent

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English, from Old French, from Latin paenitens, poenitens (penitent), present participle of Latin paenitere, poenitere (to cause to repent, intrans. repent, regret).

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

penitent (comparative more penitent, superlative most penitent)

  1. Feeling pain or sorrow on account of sins or offenses; repentant; contrite; sincerely affected by a sense of guilt, and resolved on amendment of life.
    • 1838, Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, B. Blake, p.730,
      If thou be penitent and grieved, or desirous to be so, these heinous sins shall not be laid to thy charge.
    • Milton
      Be penitent, and for thy fault contrite.
  2. Doing penance.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)

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Noun[edit]

penitent (plural penitents)

  1. One who repents of sin; one sorrowful on account of his or her transgressions.
  2. One under church censure, but admitted to penance; one undergoing penance.
    • 1837, William Russell, The History of Modern Europe: with an Account of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Longman, Rees, & Co., page 20,
      Wamba, who defeated the Saracens in an attempt upon Spain, was deprived of the crown, because he had been clothed in the habit of a penitent, while labouring under the influence of poison, administered by the ambitious Erviga!
  3. One under the direction of a confessor.

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