Make Amends

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Meaning of Idiom 'Make Amends'

To make amends means to do something to compensate for doing something wrong, especially due to a grievance or injury; to do something well that you failed to do well the first time, in order to improve the situation or make up for disappointing others. 1,2,3


Make amends is often followed by to, by, or with, as in "she is trying to make amends for cheating by giving back the money she won." It is also often used to end sentences, as in "she is honestly trying to make amends." 2


"John sent flowers to Jane to make amends for standing her up."

"I'll never be able to make amends for what I've done," said the defendant during his trial.


First seen in print in 1330. 1

This expression uses an archaic sense of the word amend meaning "to put right or improve." As a noun, amends means compensation for some wrongdoing.

1. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
2. Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.
3. Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth M. The Wordsworth Dictionary of Idioms. Ware: Wordsworth, 1995.

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