What does the idiom "make amends for" mean?

The expression make amends for is one of the idioms that often finds a place in our literature and enriches our language. However, its meaning is not fully understood, so it is sometimes used in the wrong situations. Please review the explanation carefully for the correct use of the make amends for idiom.

Meaning of "make amends for"


The phrase “make amends for” is an idiomatic expression that means to apologize and offer up recompense for a wrong-doings or wrongs inflicted. The phrase implies an effort to compensate, either through a material offering or an exchange of words, and restore the balance of an otherwise-damaged relationship or situation.


The origin of the phrase is unclear, but it has been in use in the English language as early as the 1600s. The phrase appears to have its roots in Old English, where the words “amend” and “mend” were used to describe repair work. The prefix “make”, which was in use during this period as well, adds a sense of intentionality to the phrase, indicating that the act of making amends was a deliberate action.


The phrase is commonly used in everyday English to refer to an apology and offering of recompense. It is often used specifically when addressing wrongdoing or errors that have caused harm to relationships, whether personal or professional. It may also be used when apologizing for mistakes or errors, such as when a company must pay out a large amount of money to compensate for a mistake made by its employees.

Example Sentences

  • He promised to make amends for his mistake and help repair the damage it caused.
  • I realized that I had to make amends for my behavior and apologize to my friends and family.
  • The company had to make amends for the mistake the employees had made and offered compensation to the affected customers.

The meanings of the words in the "make amends for" idiom

The Surprising Origins of Everyday English Idioms

Many English idioms have surprisingly dark origins, often rooted in violence, death, and superstition. For instance, the phrase "raining cats and dogs" is said to have originated in the 17th century, when heavy rain would often cause dead animals to wash up on the streets. Meanwhile, the idiom "rule of thumb" is believed to have originated from a law that allowed men to beat their wives with a stick no thicker than their thumb.


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