Definition of penance noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary

     

    penance

     noun
    noun
    NAmE//ˈpɛnəns//
     
     
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  1. 1[countable, usually singular, uncountable] (especially in particular religions) an act that you give yourself to do, or that a priest gives you to do, in order to show that you are sorry for something you have done wrong an act of penance penance for something to do penance for your sins Topic CollocationsReligionbeing religious believe in God/Christ/Allah/free will/predestination/heaven and hell/an afterlife/reincarnation be/become an agnostic/an atheist/a believer/a Buddhist/Christian/Hindu/Muslim, etc. convert to/practice a religion/Buddhism/Catholicism/Christianity/Islam/Judaism, etc. go to church/temple (= the synagogue) go to the local church/mosque/synagogue belong to a church/a religious community join/enter the Church/a convent/a monastery/the clergy/the priesthood/a religious sect/a cult praise/worship/obey/serve/glorify Godcelebrations and ritual attend/hold/conduct/lead a service perform a ceremony/a rite/a ritual/a baptism/the Hajj/a bar mitzvah/a bat mitzvah carry out/perform a sacred/burial/funeral/fertility/purification rite/the last rites go on/make a pilgrimage celebrate Christmas/Diwali/Easter/Eid/Hanukkah/Passover/Ramadan observe/break the Sabbath/a fast/Ramadan deliver/preach/hear a sermon lead/address the congregation say/recite a prayer/blessingreligious texts and ideas preach/proclaim/spread the word of God/the Gospel/the message of Islam/a message study/follow the dharma/the teachings of Buddha read/study/understand/interpret scripture/the Bible/the Koran/the Gospel/the Torah be based on/derived from divine revelation commit/consider something heresy/sacrilegereligious belief and experience seek/find/gain enlightenment/wisdom strengthen/lose/question your faith keep/practice/abandon the faith save/purify/lose your soul obey/follow/keep/break/violate a commandment/Islamic law/Jewish law be/accept/do God's will receive/experience divine grace achieve/attain enlightenment/salvation/nirvana undergo a conversion/rebirth/reincarnation hear/answer a prayer commit/confess/forgive a sin do/perform penance
  2. 2[singular] something that you have to do even though you do not like doing it She regards living in New York as a penance; she hates big cities.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: penance