pec·​cant ˈpe-kənt How to pronounce peccant (audio)
: guilty of a moral offense : sinning
: violating a principle or rule : faulty
peccantly adverb

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When Should You Use peccant?

Peccant comes from the Latin verb peccare, which means "to sin," "to commit a fault," or "to stumble," and is related to the better-known English word peccadillo ("a slight offense"). Etymologists have suggested that peccare might be related to Latin ped- or pes, meaning "foot," by way of an unattested adjective, peccus, which may have been used to mean "having an injured foot" or "stumbling." Whether or not a connection truly exists between peccant and peccus, peccant itself involves stumbling of a figurative kind—making errors, for example, or falling into immoral, corrupt, or sinful behavior.

Examples of peccant in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And even peccant democracies like Australia’s can change course. The Economist, 19 Sep. 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'peccant.' 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 peccant-, peccans, present participle of peccare to stumble, sin

First Known Use

circa 1604, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of peccant was circa 1604


Dictionary Entries Near peccant

Cite this Entry

“Peccant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Oct. 2023.

Medical Definition


pec·​cant ˈpek-ənt How to pronounce peccant (audio)
: causing disease
specific virtues … of drugs, as opposed to the unspecific adjustment of "peccant humours," were recognized in the 16th and 17th centuriesJoseph Needham

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