c. 1300, contrycyun, contricioun, "brokenness of spirit for having given offense, deep sorrow for sin or guilt with the purpose of not sinning again," from Old French contriciun "contrition, remorse;
a break, breach" (Modern French contrition) and directly from Late Latin contritionem (nominative contritio) "grief, contrition," noun of action from past-participle stem of conterere, literally "to grind" (see contrite). The modern sense is a figurative use in Christianity. The word was sometimes used in Middle English in the literal Latin sense "a crushing" (mid-14c.).