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to make amends or reparation, as for an offense or a crime, or for an offender (usually followed by for):
to atone for one’s sins.
to make up, as for errors or deficiencies (usually followed by for):
to atone for one’s failings.
Obsolete. to become reconciled; agree.
to make amends for; expiate:
He atoned his sins.
Obsolete. to bring into unity, harmony, concord, etc.
Contemporary Examples

Ganz: This is where everyone makes their decisions and atones with their fathers.
‘Community’: Alison Brie, Yvette Nicole Brown, Gillian Jacobs & Megan Ganz Roundtable Jace Lacob February 27, 2012

Historical Examples

Should he be wicked or frantic enough to make the attempt, he atones for it, with the certain loss of wealth, liberty or life.
Pamphlets On The Constitution Of The United States Various

Its variety and symmetry.painters, and see if it atones for the deficiencies of the stems.
Modern Painters Volume I (of V) John Ruskin

He atones for being occasionally somewhat over-dressed, by being always absolutely over-educated.
The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde

But Fielding more than atones for all the rest by the creation of Parson Adams.
The Gentle Reader Samuel McChord Crothers

It also atones for sins, and lessens the purgatorial period after death; this is another.
The Mediaeval Mind (Volume I of II) Henry Osborn Taylor

A malefactor who atones for making your writing nonsense by permitting the compositor to make it unintelligible.
The Devil’s Dictionary Ambrose Bierce

Nemours renews his vows and entreaties; the Princess refuses his hand, and atones for her error in cloistered seclusion.
A History of French Literature Edward Dowden

At night we found our bag of atones still held us very well, and we slept tranquilly.
The Malay Archipelago Alfred Russell Wallace

The weaker party, if it be wise, atones for its weakness by entrenchments.
The Great Boer War Arthur Conan Doyle

(intransitive) foll by for. to make amends or reparation (for a crime, sin, etc)
(transitive) to expiate: to atone a guilt with repentance
(obsolete) to be in or bring into agreement

1550s, from adverbial phrase atonen (c.1300) “in accord,” literally “at one,” a contraction of at and one. It retains the older pronunciation of one. The phrase perhaps is modeled on Latin adunare “unite,” from ad- “to, at” (see ad-) + unum “one.” Related: Atoned; atoning.


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