ve·​nial ˈvē-nē-əl How to pronounce venial (audio)
: of a kind that can be remitted : forgivable, pardonable
also : meriting no particular censure or notice : excusable
venial faults
venially adverb
venialness noun

Examples of venial in a Sentence

taking the restaurant's menu as a souvenir seems like a venial offense
Recent Examples on the Web But all this is venial. Allan Massie, WSJ, 21 Apr. 2021 This would have encouraged him at sensitive ages and times in his life to seriously think about the distinctions between sins of omission and sins of commission, between white lies and perjury, between venial and mortal sins, and the relationship between knowledge, intention, and guilt. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, 5 Mar. 2021 But logging off—and returning to the sphere in which people are apt to forgive one another for venial affronts—is no longer an option. Becca Rothfeld, The New Yorker, 21 Mar. 2022 And that loyalty has been reciprocated with job security and forgiveness of venial sins. cleveland, 12 Dec. 2021 The list is long of international companies, and even celebrities, who’ve groveled in apology for sins as venial as recognizing Taiwan. Kevin T. Dugan, Fortune, 8 Sep. 2021 This is, of course, the day-to-day venial reality for attorneys who don’t prosecute serial killers, and Saul can always extrapolate small crimes into tall tales. Darren Franich,, 18 June 2020 Taibbi favors a cynical style evenly applied across the universe of real and perceived journalistic trespasses, challenging a reader to sort mortal from venial. Ann Marie Lipinski, Washington Post, 18 Oct. 2019 His presence was more difficult to justify than the venial offenses of Spygate or Deflategate., 22 Sep. 2019 See More

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

Word History


Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French, borrowed from Late Latin veniālis, from Latin venia "favor, kindness, indulgence, pardon" (derivative of a verbal base *wen- "desire," whence also vener-, venus "sexual desire") + -ālis -al entry 1 — more at venus

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of venial was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near venial

Cite this Entry

“Venial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


ve·​nial ˈvē-nē-əl How to pronounce venial (audio)
: not being a serious offense : forgivable
a venial sin

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