1 : to extinguish the guilt incurred by
2 : to make amends for
Did You Know?
“Disaster shall fall upon you, which you will not be able to expiate.” That ominous biblical prophecy (Isaiah 47:11, RSV) shows that expiate was once involved in confronting the forces of evil as well as in assuaging guilt. The word derives from the Latin expiare (“to atone for”), a combination of ex- and piare, which itself means “to atone for” as well as “to appease” and traces to the Latin pius (“pious”). Expiate originally referred to warding off evil by using sacred rites, or to using sacred rites to cleanse or purify something. By the end of the 16th century, English speakers were using it to mean “to put an end to.” Those senses are now obsolete and only the “to extinguish the guilt” and “to make amends” senses remain in use.
Although the editorial had characterized the mayor’s failure to disclose the details of the meeting as a lapse that could not be expiated, many of the city’s citizens seemed ready to forgive all.