Definition of penitent in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpɛnɪt(ə)nt/


Feeling or showing sorrow and regret for having done wrong; repentant: a penitent expression
More example sentences
  • If theft were promoted in the name of St Dismas, penitent thief, how would we react?
  • What they did find was a party leader in penitent mood who came not to put fire in bellies or cajole into action, but with a limp apology.
  • His Marine Society, founded at the start of the Seven Years War in 1756, started boys on careers in the navy, and in 1758 he helped to establish the Magdalen hospital for penitent prostitutes.


1A person who repents their sins and (in the Christian Church) seeks forgiveness from God.
Example sentences
  • It would entail suspension from Eucharistic communion and taking one's seat in a special part of the church building reserved for penitents.
  • But he always seemed to me to be a model of what a Christian penitent should be and I was always grateful for him.
  • I can see that part of the Church's mission is forgiveness and second chances for the penitent.
1.1(In the Roman Catholic Church) a person who confesses their sins to a priest and submits to the penance that he imposes.
Example sentences
  • The penitent then leaves the confessional and goes and prays his penance in the church.
  • A person guilty of serious sin confessed to a bishop or presbyter appointed to this office, enrolled in the order of penitents, did penance and was reconciled on Holy Thursday in a solemn ceremony just prior to the offertory.
  • We have to protect that confidentiality and we insist on personal confession of the penitent to the priests.



Pronunciation: /ˈpɛnɪt(ə)ntli/
Example sentences
  • This only happens when we come penitently to embrace Jesus Christ as our only hope.
  • ‘I must change my vote,’ he announced, penitently.
  • The mother, usually veiled, carried the candle blessed at Candlemas and waited penitently for the priest at the vestibule of the church with her husband and female companions.


Middle English: from Old French, from Latin paenitent- 'repenting', from the verb paenitere.

Words that rhyme with penitent


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: peni|tent

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