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To make amends for one's past misdeeds or shortcomings by doing something positive. Matt's grades were not great at the beginning of the semester, but he's totally redeemed himself and gotten A's on every test since. My sister was mad at me for not spending time with her, so I redeemed myself by getting us tickets to see her favorite band.
See also: redeem
A positive aspect or attribute of an otherwise bad or unpleasant person or thing. Often emphasized by "one" or "only." My boss's only redeeming feature is that he's pretty relaxed about us taking the odd day off before or after the weekend. The one redeeming feature of my long commute to work is that I get the chance to read plenty of books.
A good quality or aspect that makes up for other drawbacks, as in The house isn't very attractive, but the garden is the redeeming feature. This idiom, first recorded in 1827, uses redeem in the sense of "compensate."