#14. Metanoia

(8 letters – 4 syllables)
a transformative change of heart; especially : a spiritual conversion

metanoia (n)
a profound, usually spiritual, transformation; conversion.
a fundamental change in character or outlook, esp repentance ⇒ This is where the churches can help to move people towards the dramatic metanoia, the change of consciousness that is necessary within the entire human order.
(Collins Dictionary)

Examples for metanoia:

“The metanoia, the re-directing of my thought, was a thorough and basic change.”

The Conquest of Fear
Basil King

“I see no way out of all this except as one of us after another reaches the metanoia, the new point of view as regards God.”

The Conquest of Fear
Basil King

Change in one’s way of life resulting from penitence or spiritual conversion.
(Oxford dictionary)

metanoia (n.)
1768, “penitence, spiritual conversion,” from Greek metanoia “afterthought, repentance,” from metanoein “to change one’s mind or purpose,” from meta- (see meta) + noein “to have mental perception,” from noos “mind, thought.”

Metanoia (rhetoric)

Metanoia in the context of rhetoric is a device used to retract a statement just made, and then state it in a better way.

Metanoia has been used in psychology since at least the time of American thinker William James to describe a process of fundamental change in the human personality..

(Anti-suicide counselling site)


Metanoia, a transliteration of the Greek μετάνοια, is usually translated as repentance, for example in The King James Version of the bible, and the verbal cognate metanoeo/μετανοέω is translated to repent. Translating metanoia as repentance has been deemed “an utter mistranslation

Literally repentance or penance. The term is regularly used in the Greek New Testament, especially in the Gospels and the preaching of the Apostles. Repentance is shown by faith, baptism, confession of sins, and producing fruits worthy of penance. It means a change of heart from sin to the practice of virtue. As conversion, it is fundamental to the teaching of Christ, was the first thing demanded by Peter on Pentecost, and is considered essential to the pursuit of Christian perfection. (Etym. Greek metanoein, to change one’s mind, repent, be converted, from meta- + noein, to perceive, thing, akin to Greek noos, nous, mind

From the Greek
(rare) Obsolete spelling of metanoia
1840 CE, The Church of England Quarterly Review, William Edward Painter, volume IX, article I, page #14:

“The moral change of mind, the metanœa, the transmentation, produced by the successful application of God’s Word and the powerful exhibition of Christ the Saviour, is explicitly declared to be, not a mere restoration to the beneficial enjoyment of an already communicated privilege, but actually, and absolutely, and unreservedly, the grace of REGENERATION itself


Philological discussions regarding the primacy of metanoia and it’s apparent mistranslation to represent repentence rather than fundamental self-realization occupy one of the most important areas of Christian theology.  For a detailed discussion of this, see the Wikipedia page dedicated to metanoia.

About Justin Arn

Part-time Bartender. Full Time Learner. Currently exploring the mystery and wonder of life while coding, reading, and hiking.
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