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From Middle English forgiveness, forgifnes, from Old English forġiefnes, equivalent to forgive +‎ -ness. Cognate with Dutch vergiffenis.



forgiveness (usually uncountable, plural forgivenesses)

  1. The action of forgiving.
    He begged for forgiveness after being caught stealing from the shop.
    • 1850, T. S. Arthur, “Happy on a Little”, in Sketches of Life and Character[1], Philadelphia: J. W. Bradley, →OCLC, page 89:
      At the end of a week, she could bear the suspense no longer, and so went humbly to her old home and sought forgiveness.
    • 1913 January, G. E. Reece, “"The Bookman" Prize Competitions § Results of Competitions for December § Forgive!”, in The Bookman, volume XLIII, number 256:
      But Oh! what anguish can more poignant be
      Than of the heart which vainly longs to plead
      Forgiveness from the dead? Shall the dead heed?
    • 2014, Jimmy Carter, “Full Prisons and Legal Killing”, in A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power[2], Simon & Schuster, →ISBN, →OCLC, page 39:
      Some devout Christians are among the most fervent advocates of the death penalty, contradicting Jesus Christ and misinterpreting Holy Scriptures and numerous examples of mercy. We remember God’s forgiveness of Cain, who killed Abel, and the adulterer King David, who arranged the killing of Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba, his lover.
  2. Readiness to forgive.


Derived terms[edit]