c. 1300, repenten, "be grieved over one's past and seek forgiveness; feel such regret for sins, crimes, or omissions as produces amendment of life," from Old French repentir (11c.), from re-, here perhaps an intensive prefix (see re-), + Vulgar Latin *penitire "to regret," from Latin poenitire "make sorry," from poena (see penal).
The distinction between regret (q.v.) and repent is made in many modern languages, but the differentiation is not present in older periods. To repent is to regret so deeply as to change the mind or course of conduct in consequence and develop new mental and spiritual habits. Also from c. 1300 in Middle English and after in an impersonal reflexive sense, especially as (it) repenteth (me, him, etc.).
And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
[Genesis vi.6, KJV, 1611]
Related: Repented; repenting.
"penitent, contrite, sorry for past sins, words, or deeds," early 13c., repentaunt, from Old French repentant "penitent" (12c.), present participle of repentir (see repent).
c. 1300, repentaunce, "state of being penitent, sorrow and contrition for sin or wrongdoing resulting in vigorous abandonment of it in one's life," from Old French repentance "penitence" (12c.), from present-participle stem of repentir (see repent).
Repentance goes beyond feeling to express distinct purposes of turning from sin to righteousness; the Bible word most often translated repentance means a change of mental and spiritual attitude toward sin. [Century Dictionary]
c. 1200, "to repair" (clothes, a tool, a building), "remove defects" (from something broken, defaced, deranged, or worn), from a shortened form of Old French amender "correct, set right, make better, improve" (see amend). Meaning "to put right, atone for (faults and errors), amend (one's life), repent" is from c. 1300. Intransitive sense of "to grow better, improve" is from late 14c. Related: Mended; mending.
Old English hreowan (class II strong verb; past tense hreaw, past participle hrowen), "make (someone) sorry, cause (someone) to grieve, distress, affect with regret," transitive senses now obsolete, from Proto-Germanic *khrewan (which is source also of Old Frisian riowa, Middle Dutch rouwen, Old Dutch hrewan, German reuen "to sadden, cause repentance").
It is in part it has been blended with the Old English weak verb hreowian "feel pain or sorrow," and perhaps influenced by Old Norse hryggja "make sad." Both are from Proto-Germanic *khruwjan, all from PIE root *kreue- (2) "to push, strike" (see anacrusis).
The meaning "repent of, feel remorse for, feel regret for something or how it happened," is attested by c. 1200; the intransitive sense of "be sorrowful or penitent, experience grief" is recorded from 14c. Related: Rued; ruing.
King John. France, thou shalt rue this hour within this hour. ["King John," Act III, Scene 1]
[act of running] late Old English, also rase, "a narrative, an account;" c. 1300, "an act of swift running, a hurried attack," also "a course of life or conduct, a swift current;" from Old Norse rās "a running, a rush (of water)," cognate with Old English ræs "a running, a rush, a leap, jump; a storming, an attack;" or else a survival of the Old English word with spelling and pronunciation influenced by the Old Norse noun and the verb. The Norse and Old English words are from Proto-Germanic *res- (source also of Middle Dutch rasen "to rave, rage," German rasen, Old English raesettan "to rage" (of fire)), from a variant form of PIE *ers- (1) "be in motion" (see err).
Originally a northern word, it became general in English c. 1550. Formerly used more broadly than now, of any course which has to be run, passed over, or gone through, such as the course of time or events or a life (c. 1300) or the track of a heavenly body across the sky (1580s). To rue (one's) race (15c.) was to repent the course one has taken.
Meaning "contest of speed involving two or more competitors; competitive trial in running, riding, etc." is from 1510s. For the sense of "artificial stream leading water to a mill, etc.," see race (n.3). Meaning "electoral contest for public office" is by 1827.