contrite (adj.)

"broken in spirit by a sense of guilt, conscience-stricken and resolved to not sin again," c. 1300, from Old French contrit (12c.) and directly from Latin contritus, literally "worn out, ground to pieces," in Late Latin "penitent," past participle of conterere "to grind," from assimilated form of com "with, together" (see con-) + terere "to rub" (from PIE root *tere- (1) "to rub, turn").

Used in Church Latin in a figurative sense of "crushed in spirit by a sense of sin." Related: Contritely.

updated on March 18, 2018