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.

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"), culprit ("one guilty of a crime or a fault"), and exculpate ("to clear from alleged fault or guilt").

Example Sentences

The mayor's public mea culpa didn't satisfy his critics.
Recent Examples on the Web The Schwartz & Sandy's owner issued a public mea culpa — though the statement made no mention of Madix and more directly served to protect his partners and employees at the L.A. restaurant. Kelly Wynne, Peoplemag, 7 Mar. 2023 Dorsey issued a mea culpa for Twitter’s actions with respect to the Post story. Todd Spangler, Variety, 2 Dec. 2022 In 2021, Patten released a mea culpa, in the form of a video conversation with the trans writer and activist Shakina Nayfack. Robert Ito, New York Times, 1 Mar. 2023 Some have speculated that Gravity’s Rainbow is itself a kind of long-form mea culpa, in which Pynchon reckons with his own stint of active complicity within a system optimized for the delivery of death. John Semley, WIRED, 16 Feb. 2023 The reaction was overwhelmingly positive and has been touted as a model for an effective mea culpa. Chip Bell, Forbes, 14 Feb. 2023 But read a little deeper into Pichai’s mea culpa, and there’s a clear issue weighing on his mind: Microsoft’s A.I. advances. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 20 Jan. 2023 Tite’s explanation soon turned into a mea culpa to the country. Jonathan Clegg, WSJ, 27 Nov. 2022 The comedian has yet to address the matter publicly, and representatives for him did not immediately respond to EW's request for comment regarding Smith's mea culpa. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 29 Mar. 2022 See More

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 31 Mar. 2023.

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