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What kind of adjective would you use to describe someone who, has done something terrible but wishes to be forgiven? Apologetic feels like it doesn't carry enough weight, and doesn't guarantee regret.

Possibly something to describe someone feeling Sorrow over actions, choices or events.

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    The word you are looking for is remorseful. – LawrenceC Dec 12 '16 at 18:51
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    Also related: repentance. (But if you're looking for an adjective, I'd say regretful is just fine.) – Damkerng T. Dec 12 '16 at 18:57
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Penitent

or

Repentant.

Either expresses a deep remorse for something you have done wrong. Be aware that both are frequently used in a religious context, so there can be a slightly pious nuance.

Examples:

The judge asked if the defendant truly repented his crime.

She stood before the crowd, unrepentant of what she had done.

Only the penitant man will pass

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