top of page
The Complete Vocabulary Builder Workbook



How to pronounce penitent (audio)

Dictionary definition of penitent

Deep regret or remorse for one's actions or wrongdoing.
"The thief appeared penitent as he returned the stolen goods and offered an apology."

Detailed meaning of penitent

When someone is penitent, they are genuinely sorry for their behavior and are actively seeking forgiveness or atonement. This state of penitence often involves a strong sense of guilt, accompanied by a sincere desire to make amends or change their ways. A penitent individual may demonstrate their remorse through actions such as apologizing, accepting responsibility for their actions, and taking steps to rectify the situation. They may exhibit a humble and contrite attitude, showing a willingness to learn from their mistakes and strive for personal growth. The feeling of being penitent can be a catalyst for introspection and a sincere commitment to making things right.

Example sentences containing penitent

1. Sarah's penitent expression showed her remorse for betraying her friend's trust.
2. The penitent student approached the teacher to confess his plagiarism and ask for forgiveness.
3. He wrote a penitent letter to his parents, expressing his regret for his rebellious behavior.
4. The penitent employee sought redemption by working extra hours to make up for his mistake.
5. The penitent politician admitted his wrongdoing and vowed to make amends with his constituents.
6. She wore a penitent expression, fully aware of the consequences of her actions.

History and etymology of penitent

The adjective 'penitent' has its etymological roots in Latin and carries a history deeply connected to religious and moral concepts. It can be traced back to the Latin word 'paenitentia,' which denotes 'penance' or 'repentance.' This term is derived from 'paenitere,' a verb meaning 'to make sorry' or 'to cause regret.' In ancient Roman and Christian contexts, 'paenitentia' referred to the act of showing remorse for one's sins and seeking forgiveness through acts of penance or contrition. As the concept of repentance and remorse became fundamental in Christian theology, the term 'penitent' was adopted into English in the late Middle Ages to describe a person who expresses deep regret or remorse for their actions or wrongdoing, often in a religious context. The etymology of 'penitent' reflects its historical connection to the moral and spiritual dimensions of repentance and regret.

Quiz: Find the meaning of penitent

Try Again!


Further usage examples of penitent

1. The penitent husband bought his wife flowers and apologized profusely for forgetting their anniversary.
2. The penitent teenager promised to change his ways after realizing the pain he caused his family.
3. With a penitent heart, she confessed her lies and promised to be truthful from that point forward.
4. The penitent driver accepted the consequences of his reckless driving and enrolled in a defensive driving course.
5. He attended the church service with a penitent spirit, seeking forgiveness for his past mistakes.
6. The penitent shoplifter returned to the store, offering to pay for the items she had stolen.
7. The penitent student approached the professor, acknowledging her plagiarism and accepting the resulting penalty.
8. Despite her penitent demeanor, some doubted the sincerity of her apologies, suspecting ulterior motives.
9. The penitent thief begged for forgiveness on his knees.
10. Her penitent tears showed genuine remorse for her mistakes.
11. He wore a penitent expression as he admitted his guilt.
12. The penitent criminal vowed to turn his life around.
13. After the accident, she felt deeply penitent for her recklessness.
14. The penitent student apologized for plagiarizing his essay.
15. His penitent confession moved the priest to offer absolution.
16. The penitent employee promised to never repeat the error.
17. The penitent politician admitted to his past indiscretions.
18. The penitent husband sought forgiveness from his wife.
19. The penitent artist used his work to express his remorse.
20. She showed a penitent attitude towards her former rival.
21. The penitent soldier sought redemption through acts of kindness.
22. The penitent child apologized to her parents for lying.
23. The penitent sinner found solace in prayer and reflection.
24. His penitent heart yearned for a second chance at love.
25. The penitent student promised to study harder next time.
26. The penitent man volunteered to help those less fortunate.
27. Her penitent demeanor won back the trust of her friends.
28. The penitent CEO pledged to rebuild the company's reputation.



remorseful, unrepentant, indifferent, unapologetic


ACT 15 (American College Testing), Acknowledgment and Acceptance, High School 14

bottom of page