It is not that the person has done something that is necessarily wrong; it is more as if a situation occurred and the person feels they may have caused it, or the person feels guilty about it in general, so he or she would like to "make up" for it. The word for it is on the tip of my tongue, but I just cannot think of it. If possible, I would like both nouns and adjectives. Thank you.

  • Repentant? Penitent? Remorseful? Contrite? Rueful? We need more clues.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 21:46
  • Sounds overconscientious to me.
    – jxh
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 0:44

1 Answer 1


"contrite" as suggested in a comment and accepted as the right answer by the OP, means "feeling or showing sorrow and remorse for having done something". It doesn't necessarily mean the agent feels as if they must do something good (atone) as a way to show they are sorry about what they have done, though.

  • contrite - (adj) feeling or showing regret for bad behavior, feeling or showing sorrow for having done something bad or wrong : repentant "The prince lowered his head so as to appear humbled and contrite." — Sid Fleischman, The Whipping Boy MW

Examples in a sentence:

  • She apologized and it was clear she was contrite.
  • He avoided meeting my eyes after having damaged my car. I could see it was the result of his feeling contrite.
  • Ah, my apologies. I am not a native speaker, so sometimes words do not mean what I think they do. What other words do you think would be more fitting? Repentant, perhaps?
    – Hello
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 23:43
  • @Hello Depending on context, any of the words mentioned by Dan Bron. Try to find them in Google Books and see when and how they are used.
    – Centaurus
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 0:43

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