Definition of contrite in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /kənˈtrʌɪt/


Feeling or expressing remorse at the recognition that one has done wrong: a contrite tone
More example sentences
  • I am truly contrite, penitent, repentant, remorseful and steeped in the tears of my regretfulness.
  • It was a dramatic change in tone, a contrite president uncharacteristically admitting a major failure.
  • It was striking, although its tone was less contrite than last week's recantation.
remorseful, repentant, penitent, regretful, full of regret, sorry, apologetic, self-reproachful, rueful, sheepish, hangdog;
ashamed, chastened, shamefaced, conscience-stricken, guilt-ridden, in sackcloth and ashes
rare compunctious



Example sentences
  • A man should pray with eyes fast-closed and head contritely bowed.
  • But as the firms began contritely co-operating with officials on settlements of the charges, investors responded rapidly.
  • There is usually a period of outright lying, followed by Harry contritely admitting that he has hit, kicked, pushed or thrown something at William.


Example sentences
  • And that's about all the contriteness you get from me tonight.
  • But his sureness and occasional contriteness stayed just the right side of arrogance and has probably bought him time with disgruntled party delegates.
  • 'I didn't even know I fell asleep on the couch,' she said with contriteness.


Middle English: from Old French contrit, from Latin contritus, past participle of conterere 'grind down, wear away', from con- 'together' + terere 'rub'.

  • The Latin word contritus meant ‘ground down’ and was based on con- ‘together’ and terere ‘to rub or grind’, also the source of trite. The ‘remorseful’ meaning of contrite developed from the idea of a person's spirit being broken by a sense of sin.

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Related Words