The definition of penitent is feeling or showing remorse for something.(adjective)
An example of penitent is a child who is sorry he misbehaved and who apologizes.
In the Roman Catholic religion, a penitent is a person who confesses his sins to a priest and does penance.(noun)
An example of penitent is a person who confesses to a priest and then, as directed, says five Hail Marys.
See penitent in Webster's New World College Dictionary
Origin: OFr < L paenitens, prp. of paenitere, to repent; prob. akin to paene, scarcely: see passion
See penitent in American Heritage Dictionary 4
Origin: Middle English
Origin: , from Old French
Origin: , from Medieval Latin pēnitēns, pēnitent-
Origin: , from Latin paenitēns
Origin: , present participle of paenitēre, to repent.
Learn more about penitent