Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Date: 1200-1300
Language: Old French
Origin: Medieval Latin poenitentia, from Latin paenitere; PENITENT1

penance

noun
     
Related topics: Christianity
pen‧ance
1 [countable usually singular, uncountable]RRC something that you must do to show that you are sorry for something you have done wrong, especially in some religions
do/perform penance
We prayed and did penance together.
penance for
as a penance for his sins
2 [singular] something that you have to do but do not enjoy doing:
Working in the garden was a kind of penance.

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