• WordNet 3.6
    • n penance a Catholic sacrament; repentance and confession and atonement and absolution
    • n penance voluntary self-punishment in order to atone for some wrongdoing
    • n penance remorse for your past conduct
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Penance (Eccl) A means of repairing a sin committed, and obtaining pardon for it, consisting partly in the performance of expiatory rites, partly in voluntary submission to a punishment corresponding to the transgression, imposed by a confessor or other ecclesiastical authority. Penance is the fourth of seven sacraments in the Roman Catholic Church. "And bitter penance , with an iron whip.""Quoth he, “The man hath penance done,
      And penance more will do.”"
    • Penance Any act performed by a person to atone for an offense to another; an act of atonement.
    • Penance Pain; sorrow; suffering. "Joy or penance he feeleth none."
    • Penance Repentance.
    • v. t Penance To impose penance; to punish. "Some penanced lady elf."
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n penance Penitence; repentance. [Penance and do penance are generally used in the Douay version where the King James version has repentance and repent. They are also used by Wyclif in his translation.]
    • n penance Sorrow for sin shown by outward acts; self-punishment expressive of penitence or repentance; the suffering to which a person voluntarily subjects himself, as by fasting, flagellation, self-imposed tasks, etc., as an expression of penitence; the outward acts by which sorrow for sin is shown.
    • n penance Eccles., sorrow for sin shown by outward acts under authority and regulation of the church; contrition manifested by confession and satisfaction and entitling to absolution; hence, absolution ensuing upon contrition and confession with satisfaction or purpose of satisfaction. Absolution has been given on these terms since primitive times in the church, and this ancient institution was afterward formally recognized as a sacrament by the Roman Catholic, the Greek, and other churches. The sacrament of penance includes four parts; contrition, confession, satisfaction, and absolution. It is required that there should be a genuine and a supernatural contrition for the sin committed—that is, a sorrow produced by the influence of the Holy Spirit, coupled with a firm purpose of amendment; that the sin should be confessed fully and unreservedly to a priest; and that satisfaction be made for it by a voluntary submission to such penalty or discipline as the priest may require and by restitution to persons wronged; and absolution can be granted only on these conditions. It can be administered by no one who has not received priest's orders. Every member of the Roman Catholic Church is obliged at least once a year to confess to his parish priest and to do penance under his direction; he cannot partake of communion without previous absolution, but is not either before confession or during his penitential discipline regarded as under ecclesiastical censure, which is inflicted on the contumacious only.
    • n penance The penalty or discipline imposed by the priest in the above sacrament.
    • n penance Hence Any act of austerity or asceticism practised with a religious motive.
    • n penance Suffering; sorrow; misery.
    • n penance An instrument or means of self-punishment used by persons undergoing penance either inflicted or voluntary. Shirts of horsehair with the inner surface rough and bristling, garments of sackcloth worn next the skin, and iron belts are frequently mentioned. A more unusual form is a garment composed of links of iron similar to chain-mail, but with the ends of the wires turned up and sharpened on the inner side. See scourge and flagellum.
    • n penance To show one's self repentant by submitting to the punishment of censure or suffering.
    • penance To inflict penance upon; discipline by penance.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Penance pen′ans repentance: external acts performed to manifest sorrow for sin, to seek to atone for the sin and to avert the punishment which, even after the guilt has been remitted, may still remain due to the offence—also the sacrament by which absolution is conveyed (involving contrition, confession, and satisfaction): any instrument of self-punishment
    • v.t Penance to impose penance on: to punish
    • ***


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
OF. penance, peneance, L. paenitentia, repentance. See Penitence


In literature:

Less penance may serve!
"The Haunted Hour" by Various
But I will not be touched by your hands, and I refuse this mode of penance.
"The Tales Of The Heptameron, Vol. IV. (of V.)" by Margaret, Queen Of Navarre
You must do severe penance for this sin, the twofold sin which rests upon your head.
"The Best Ghost Stories" by Various
You are now performing a penance as a trial of your humility.
"The Mysteries of Free Masonry" by William Morgan
Outward penances dispose to inward, as humiliations to humility.
"Pascal's Pensées" by Blaise Pascal
Do more work in the field and do less penance; be shyayak rather than Koshare!
"The Delight Makers" by Adolf Bandelier
Nothing could make him sorry he had come to Kaskaskia; but he expected to do penance for it.
"Old Kaskaskia" by Mary Hartwell Catherwood
A good dose of ordinary, everyday mortification and penance goes a long way toward producing the necessary effect.
"Explanation of Catholic Morals" by John H. Stapleton
She performed penance, and knelt.
"The Most Ancient Lives of Saint Patrick" by Various
If the scourge hurts me, I shall think it a penance.
"Dr. Dumany's Wife" by Mór Jókai

In poetry:

We seek, in prayers and penances,
To do the martyr's part,
Remembering not, the promises
Are to the pure in heart.
"January" by Alice Cary
She never shrank from penance rude,
And was so young and fair,
It was a holy, holy thing,
To see her at her prayer.
"The Vesper Chime" by Mary Gardiner Horsford
``Would ye retrieve the one?
``Try and make plump the other!
``When Date's penance is done,
``Dabitur helps his brother.
"The Twins" by Robert Browning
To breaking hearts it saith, “Be comforted.
With secret pain and tears
And night-long penance thro’ the torturing years
Vex not the spirits of the mighty dead.”
"Out Of The Silence" by George Essex Evans
And thus from this life did our Saviour depart,
When he on the cross had first suffer'd the smart,
The Woes, and the Penance, and Vengeance entire,
Which God for the sins of the world did require.
"A Rehearsal Of Christ's Love Towards The World" by Rees Prichard
The sin, if sin it was, I do repent,
And take the penance on myself alone;
Yet after I have borne the punishment,
I shall not fear to stand before the throne
Of Love with open heart, and make this plea:
"At least I have not lied to her nor Thee!"
"Without Disguise" by Henry Van Dyke

In news:

Foot washings, public acts of penance and traditional ceremonies mark the holy day.
For most Christians, Lent is a time of penance, prayer, and preparation for or recollection of baptism, in preparation for the celebration of Easter.
The Civil War was the beginning of paying penance for America's original sin — but the battle rages on.
Bishops Encourage Greater Use of Penance .
US Bishops Discuss Penance , Religious Liberty, Economy.
The tribute dinner for the Sisters of St Francis of Penance and Christian Charity will be held at 6 pm on Wednesday, Oct 10, at The Buffalo Club.
But penance is an entirely different thing.
Doing penance is voluntarily submitting to some form of unpleasantness.
An act of literary penance .
Oregon State's Jorge Reyes pays penance for a sin.
Ladies and gentlemen, we'd like to introduce you to Pennsylvania, the penance state.
Pope Addresses Abuse Scandal, Says Church Must ' Relearn Penance'.
That piece of grilled fish and a sprightly salad, which were so appealing just a few weeks ago, taste like a penance when there's a nip in the air.
Snacking on carrots really isn't appropriate penance for the second helping I had at dinner last night.
Lent is a time of prayer, penance and sacrifice in preparation for the Easter season.