• IPA: /ˈpɛnɪtənt/


  1. Feeling pain or sorrow on account of one's sins or offenses; repentant; contrite; feeling sincere guilt.
    • 1838, Robert Burton (scholar), 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.
    • 1671, John Milton, Paradise Regained
      Be penitent, and for thy fault contrite.
  2. Doing penance.
    • circa 1594 William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors, [Act I, scene ii]:
      […] But we that know what ’tis to faſt and pray, / Are penitent for your default to day.
Synonyms Translations
  • German: reumütig, reuig; bußfertig (religion)
  • Russian: кающийся

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.
  • penaunt
  • French: pénitent
  • German: Reumütiger; Bußfertiger (religion)
  • German: Büßer
  • German: Beichtkind

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