mea culpa

mea cul·​pa | \ ˌmā-ə-ˈku̇l-pə How to pronounce mea culpa (audio) , ˌmā-ä-, -ˈku̇l-(ˌ)pä \

Definition of mea culpa

: a formal acknowledgment of personal fault or error The mayor's public mea culpa didn't satisfy his critics.

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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").

Examples of mea culpa in a Sentence

The mayor's public mea culpa didn't satisfy his critics.
Recent Examples on the Web The vice chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, a former coronavirus skeptic, has issued a mea culpa after falling sick with COVID-19, likely from being infected at a White House Hannukah party last month. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Hank Aaron, skeptic’s mea culpa, vaccine campouts: News from around our 50 states," 6 Jan. 2021 The New York Times on Monday published a mea culpa by career lawyer Erica Newland, who joined the Justice Department under Obama and then served under Trump. Ankush Khardori, The New Republic, "Flight of the Barr Bros," 22 Dec. 2020 The news follows a mea culpa from the Oregon Health Authority on Wednesday concerning its misreporting of the number of Pfizer doses four Oregon hospitals received that day. Tim Gruver, Washington Examiner, "Oregon, Washington governors say states are short thousands of promised vaccines," 21 Dec. 2020 After fierce backlash grew against his travels, Hancock offered a mea culpa and sought to explain his decision to fly despite his entreaties to avoid holiday travel, a suggestion echoed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Washington Post, "Denver’s mayor urged residents to avoid Thanksgiving travel. Then he flew cross-country to see family.," 26 Nov. 2020 Although there was little in the way of a mea culpa, the hearing provided lawmakers with an opportunity to vent their anger. Ed Silverman @pharmalot, STAT, "Sackler family members deny responsibility for the opioid crisis in a rare public appearance," 17 Dec. 2020 In a scathing op-ed, the Sentinel's editorial board published a mea culpa for previously supporting the congressman's reelection. Fox News, "Orlando Sentinel apologizes for endorsing GOP congressman after he backs Texas election lawsuit," 12 Dec. 2020 The net effect of these structural changes amounts to a collective mea culpa. Kristen Leigh Painter, Star Tribune, "Delta Air Lines permanently eliminates international change fees," 9 Dec. 2020 After McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals, Gregory, who was then the Archbishop of Atlanta, issued a mea culpa. Paul Elie, The New Yorker, "What the New Vatican Report Shows About the Church’s Failures in Addressing Sexual Abuse," 20 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mea culpa.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of mea culpa

1602, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for mea culpa

Latin, through my fault

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The first known use of mea culpa was in 1602

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Last Updated

22 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Mea culpa.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for mea culpa

mea culpa


English Language Learners Definition of mea culpa

: a statement in which you say that something is your fault

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