mea culpa


mea cul·​pa ˌmā-ə-ˈku̇l-pə How to pronounce mea culpa (audio)
: 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"), culprit ("one guilty of a crime or a fault"), and exculpate ("to clear from alleged fault or guilt").

Examples of mea culpa in a Sentence

The mayor's public mea culpa didn't satisfy his critics.
Recent Examples on the Web Dixon opened her 2024 campaign with a public mea culpa, publishing an apologetic op-ed in The Sun. Emily Opilo, Baltimore Sun, 14 Apr. 2024 Instead of retiring comfortably with his wealth, Coppola’s opted to bring us this message, which is part mission statement, part mea culpa. Peter Debruge, Variety, 16 May 2024 In a 2018 interview with the New Jersey newspaper The Record, Mr. Shapiro issued a mea culpa of sorts. Alex Williams, New York Times, 10 May 2024 Arena offered something of a mea culpa late Saturday night just the same. Austin Knoblauch, Los Angeles Times, 11 Sep. 2023 See all Example Sentences for mea culpa 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'mea culpa.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin, through my fault

First Known Use

1602, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of mea culpa was in 1602


Dictionary Entries Near mea culpa

Cite this Entry

“Mea culpa.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jun. 2024.

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