: a formal acknowledgment of personal fault or error
The mayor's public mea culpa didn't satisfy his critics.
"Here's my mea culpa: I admit I'm carrying around 20 pounds I could do without and also don't exercise enough." - From an article by Eli Amdur in the Patriot News (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), November 10, 2013
Did You Know?
"Mea culpa," which means "through my fault" in Latin, comes from a prayer of confession in the Catholic Church. Said by itself, it's an exclamation of apology or remorse that is used to mean "It was my fault" or "I apologize." "Mea culpa" is also a noun, however. A newspaper might issue a mea culpa for printing inaccurate information, or a politician might give a speech making mea culpas for past wrongdoings. "Mea culpa" is one of many English terms that derive from the Latin "culpa," meaning "guilt." Some other examples are "culpable" ("meriting condemnation or blame especially as wrong or harmful") and "culprit" ("one guilty of a crime or a fault").
Word Family Quiz
What relative of "mea culpa" begins with "i" and is a synonym of "incriminate"? The answer is …