mea culpa

mea cul·​pa | \ˌmā-ə-ˈku̇l-pə, 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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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").

Examples of mea culpa in a Sentence

The mayor's public mea culpa didn't satisfy his critics.

Recent Examples on the Web

And now the Saudis will have to stomach global scrutiny that will be critical of too many all-is-fine smiles from attendees or too few mea culpas from government officials. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "On the eve of the Saudi economic summit, we’re about to see just how damaged they are in Silicon Valley," 23 Oct. 2018 But the whole thing, which some have cast as an apology, is closer to revisionist history than a mea culpa. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "Stephen Bannon's quasi-apology to the Trumps doesn't hold water," 8 Jan. 2018 And despite exhortations from politicians and mea culpas from technology executives, some of their latest campaigns and features are actually making things worse. Casey Newton, The Verge, "How a new class of “digital martyrs” are manipulating social networks," 18 Sep. 2018 A few hours later, Legend posted a tribute—and a tongue-in-cheek mea culpa—too. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Chrissy Teigen and John Legend Celebrate Their Anniversary With Sweet (and Sarcastic) Instagram Posts," 14 Sep. 2018 Zuckerberg isn't the only company executive issuing a mea culpa. USA TODAY, "Austin serial bomber saga comes to an explosive end," 21 Mar. 2018 The ubiquity of Fox News in Facebook’s new live stream schedule could be seen as a mea culpa of sorts — or an attempt to address the allegations of bias against conservatives. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "Facebook’s first wave of ‘trustworthy’ news shows sure includes a lot of Fox News," 11 July 2018 On Sunday, Ferdinand tweeted his own mea culpa for past failures, while also highlighting Southgate’s unique contribution. Danica Kirka, The Seattle Times, "Coach of England wins the nation’s heart by being a nice guy," 10 July 2018 Released just a few weeks later, Ant-Man and the Wasp practically feels like a mea culpa, or at least the opportunity to take a breath. Graeme Mcmillan, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Ant-Man and The Wasp': What the Critics Are Saying," 27 June 2018

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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Statistics for mea culpa

Last Updated

10 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for mea culpa

The first known use of mea culpa was in 1602

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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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Nglish: Translation of mea culpa for Spanish Speakers

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living or existing for a long time

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