Vocab at the Movies: Atonement

Jen Dziura —  July 21, 2010 — 2 Comments

AtonementThe 2007 film Atonement, starring Keira Knightley, is the doleful story of a woman attempting to right a wrong she committed as a thirteen year old in 1935 — a wrong that ruins the lives of her older sister and her lover.

Atonement means “satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury; amends.”

A person who atones for a wrong is contrite.

You could also say that a person who does penance or makes recompense for his wrongs is redeemed, or that he is absolved of his peccancy.

A person who does penance could also be said to be penitent (antonym: impenitent). The word penitent comes from the Latin word for punishment, which also gives us penal and penitentiary. Also relatedly, if you did something in a non-punishing way, you could describe it with a very interesting adverb:

While it’s true she was still angry at him, she wanted to emphasize that she canceled his plane ticket only for financial reasons — that is, she did it wholly unpenally.

Jen Dziura

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Jennifer Dziura is Manhattan Prep's GRE Blog Editor and Lead Content Developer. She writes books and curricula for the GRE, and is the author of Manhattan Prep's 500 Essential Words and 500 Advanced Words flashcard sets. Also a GMAT and SAT expert, Jennifer uses her obviously copious spare time to co-host an adult spelling bee in a bar and travel to colleges and universities to give humorous talks about philosophy and punctuation. She is working on a book about speed mathematics.

2 responses to Vocab at the Movies: Atonement

  1. Good share, great article, very usefull for usthanks.

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