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From Latin expiātus, past participle of expiō (atone for).


  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /ˈɛk.spi.eɪt/
  • (file)


expiate (third-person singular simple present expiates, present participle expiating, simple past and past participle expiated)

  1. (transitive or intransitive) To atone or make reparation for.
    • Clarendon
      The Treasurer obliged himself to expiate the injury.
    • 1888, Leo XIII, "Quod Anniversarius",
      Thus those pious souls who expiate the remainder of their sins amidst such tortures will receive a special and opportune consolation, []
    • 1913, Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Return of Tarzan, Chapter VI,
      I am going out to expiate a great wrong, Paul. A very necessary feature of the expiation is the marksmanship of my opponent.
  2. (transitive) To make amends or pay the penalty for.
    • 1876, Jules Verne, translated by Stephen W. White, The Mysterious Island, part 2, chapter 17,
      He had only to live and expiate in solitude the crimes which he had committed.
    • 1986, John le Carré, A Perfect Spy:
      And when it was required of him by the rigid laws of a haphazard justice, which in retrospect seems like every night of the week, he pressed his limp forelock into a filthy washbasin, clutched a tap in each throbbing hand, and expiated a string of crimes he didn't know he had committed until they were thoughtfully explained to him between each stroke by Mr. Willow or his representatives.
  3. (transitive, obsolete) To relieve or cleanse of guilt.
    • 1829, Pierre Henri Larcher, Larcher's Notes on Herodotus, vol. 2, p. 195,
      [] and Epimenides was brought from Crete to expiate the city.
  4. (transitive) To purify with sacred rites.
    • 1609, Deuteronomy xviii. 10 (Douay–Rheims version)
      Neither let there be found among you any one that shall expiate his son or daughter, making them to pass through the fire.
  5. (transitive) To wind up, bring to an end.
    • 1609, William Shakespeare, Sonnet 22:
      But when in thee time's furrows I behold,
      Then look I death my days should expiate.

Usage notesEdit

Intransitive use, constructed with for (like atone), is obsolete in Christian usage, but fairly common in informal discussions of Islam.

Related termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.