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penance

[pen-uh ns] /ˈpɛn əns/
noun
1.
a punishment undergone in token of penitence for sin.
2.
a penitential discipline imposed by church authority.
3.
a sacrament, as in the Roman Catholic Church, consisting in a confession of sin, made with sorrow and with the intention of amendment, followed by the forgiveness of the sin.
Origin
1250-1300
1250-1300; Middle English penaunce < Anglo-French; Old French peneance < Latin paenitentia penitence
Related forms
penanceless, adjective
Can be confused
penance, pennants.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for penance
  • He will do penance by resigning from his cushy job and working in a slum.
  • He paused and told the students about pilgrimages for purposes of penance.
  • There are days on the Peninsula when the heat and humidity make the slightest body movement seem like a penance.
  • Laying himself this bare feels like an act of penance for surviving, and makes his character all the richer.
  • After the exuberant party must come the austerity, also as some sort of penance.
  • This was not a gift; it was penance.
  • The unspoken penance will suffice.
  • This was his penance, a chance to show he was worthy of a do-over.
  • Don't make their penance any harder on them than it needs to be.
  • penance is central to punishment, and he had served only one year.
British Dictionary definitions for penance

penance

/ˈpɛnəns/
noun
1.
voluntary self-punishment to atone for a sin, crime, etc
2.
a feeling of regret for one's wrongdoings
3.
(Christianity)
  1. a punishment usually consisting of prayer, fasting, etc, undertaken voluntarily as an expression of penitence for sin
  2. a punishment of this kind imposed by church authority as a condition of absolution
verb
4.
(transitive) (of ecclesiastical authorities) to impose a penance upon (a sinner)
Word Origin
C13: via Old French from Latin paenitentia repentance; related to Latin poena penalty
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 penance
n.

late 13c., "religious discipline or self-mortification as a token of repentance and as atonement for some sin," from Anglo-French penaunce, Old French peneance (12c.), from Latin pænitentia (see penitence). Transferred sense is recorded from c.1300.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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penance in Culture

penance definition


Acts done to make up for sin. (See confession and indulgence.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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