9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[pen-i-tuh nt] /ˈpɛn ɪ tənt/
feeling or expressing sorrow for sin or wrongdoing and disposed to atonement and amendment; repentant; contrite.
a penitent person.
Roman Catholic Church. a person who confesses sin and submits to a penance.
Origin of penitent
1325-75; Middle English < Medieval Latin pēnitent-, Latin paenitent- (stem of paenitēns), present participle of paenitēre to regret; replacing Middle English penaunt < Anglo-French; see penance
Related forms
penitently, adverb
nonpenitent, adjective, noun
unpenitent, adjective
unpenitently, adverb
1. remorseful, rueful, sorrowful.
1. unrepentant, impenitent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for penitent
  • Just what might have been done by a penitent nation is not made clear.
  • There was a penitent nature to the soldier's words.
  • He visits her grave, penitent.
  • But the idea is not that a nation of penitents would make better fighters.
  • It is strange to think – but the original idea behind penitentiaries was for the prisoners to be penitent.
  • There may be much to be penitent about.
  • The penitent man shall pass.
  • It was a haven for the pious and tbe penitent.
  • The penitent asked him why he had so much spared his weakness.
  • The priest may not, even of his voluntary accord, testify as to what was said in the confessional booth by the penitent.
British Dictionary definitions for penitent


feeling regret for one's sins; repentant
a person who is penitent
  1. a person who repents his sins and seeks forgiveness for them
  2. (RC Church) a person who confesses his sins to a priest and submits to a penance imposed by him
Derived Forms
penitence, noun
penitently, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Church Latin paenitēns regretting, from paenitēre to repent, of obscure origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for penitent

mid-14c., from Old French pénitent (14c.) and directly from Latin paenitentem (see penitence). As a noun, late 14c., from the adjective.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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