Word of the Day – Atone

Word of the Day : October 5, 2022


verb uh-TOHN

What It Means

  • Atone is usually used with for to mean “to make amends; to provide or serve as reparation or compensation.”
  • // James tried to atone for the wrongdoings of his youth by devoting his life to helping others.
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ATONE In Context

“After a childhood act of cowardice, Amir spends most of the play reflecting on and trying to atone for his failure to come to the aid of his best friend.” — Laura Zornosa, The New York Times, 1 July 2022

Did You Know?

Atone has its roots in the idea of reconciliation and harmony. It grew out of the Middle English phrase at on meaning “in harmony,” a phrase echoed in current expressions like “feeling at one with nature.” When atone joined modern English in the 16th century, it meant “to reconcile,” and suggested the restoration of a peaceful and harmonious state between people or groups. Today, atone specifically implies addressing the damage—or disharmony—caused by one’s own behavior.