pec·​ca·​dil·​lo | \ ˌpe-kə-ˈdi-(ˌ)lō How to pronounce peccadillo (audio) \
plural peccadilloes or peccadillos

Definition of peccadillo

: a slight offense The movie star's peccadilloes made tabloid headlines.

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The Sinful History of Pecadillo

"The world loves a spice of wickedness." That observation by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow may explain why people are so willing to forgive peccadilloes as youthful foolishness or lapses of judgment. The willingness to overlook petty faults and minor offenses existed long before English speakers borrowed a modified version of the Spanish pecadillo at the end of the 16th century. Spanish speakers distinguished the pecadillo, or "little sin," from the more serious pecado, their term for a sin of magnitude. And these Spanish terms can be traced back still further, to the Latin verb peccare, meaning "to sin."

Examples of peccadillo in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Still, when measured against Mr. M’s sins, Tracy’s peccadilloes look pretty trivial. New York Times, 27 Sep. 2017 But all of them also come with varying peccadilloes. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, 18 Mar. 2020 Freeze resigned at Ole Miss the following summer after he was caught in the crosshairs of a scandal that included multiple NCAA rules violations and his own personal peccadilloes. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, 27 Feb. 2020 The peccadilloes of royalty never go out of fashion, but Catherine -- with her tumultuous decades-long reign -- brings more intrigue to the party than most. Brian Lowry, CNN, 21 Oct. 2019 Its corporate peccadilloes, which largely revolve around corporate governance, appear to have been ignored by executives at the Japanese company: WeWork was a unicorn and SoftBank just had to be part of it. Tim Culpan / Bloomberg, Time, 23 Sep. 2019 But even the president, who has frequently praised the agency's work under Pruitt, came to the conclusion that the former Oklahoma attorney general's professional achievements were not worth the steady media drip of Pruitt's personal peccadilloes. Ledyard King, USA TODAY, 5 July 2018 Their personal peccadilloes combined with their fawning attitude only enable them to come across as want to be ‘hep cats.’ That went away with Dobie Gillis. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, 23 Apr. 2018 In exchange for these peccadilloes, listeners received two doses of pure excitement, two scenes in which zeal never flagged, the dramatic arch remained clear, and the orchestra displayed the full, glorious extent of its skill at high speed. Zachary Lewis,, 16 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'peccadillo.' 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 peccadillo

1591, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for peccadillo

Spanish pecadillo, diminutive of pecado sin, from Latin peccatum, from neuter of peccatus, past participle of peccare

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Time Traveler for peccadillo

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The first known use of peccadillo was in 1591

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Cite this Entry

“Peccadillo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jun. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of peccadillo

: a small mistake or fault that is not regarded as very bad or serious

More from Merriam-Webster on peccadillo

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for peccadillo

Nglish: Translation of peccadillo for Spanish Speakers


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