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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

In shul this week on Yom Kippur, however, I’d rather focus on the atoning I need to do myself.
A Day For Politics Or Not Peter Beinart September 23, 2012

Historical Examples

All has been “once and for ever” settled by the atoning death of the Lamb of God.
Life and Times of David Charles Henry Mackintosh

Then, too, His atoning work on the cross has no meaning for us.
The Work Of Christ A. C. Gaebelein

You cannot strike the atoning aspect of His death out of that expression by any fair handling of the words.
Expositions of Holy Scripture: Romans Corinthians (To II Corinthians, Chap. V) Alexander Maclaren

In his reticence he had the sense of atoning not only to the apparition but to Miss Hernshaw too.
Questionable Shapes William Dean Howells

I had not felt the man’s insolent letter, but I felt deeply the woman’s atoning kindness.
The Woman in White Wilkie Collins

Where then the cherished hope of one day atoning for his wrongs to those who loved him!
A Dish Of Orts George MacDonald

Her self-disgust now seemed to lend her a certain sense of atoning self-respect.
The Confounding of Camelia Anne Douglas Sedgwick

He himself was not eating, for was he not atoning for his sins?
Debts of Honor Maurus Jkai

But the pain that we give these blessed little ones when we wound their tenderness,–for that there is no atoning.
Bits About Home Matters Helen Hunt Jackson

(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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