Word of the Day : January 14, 2019

mea culpa

noun may-uh-KOOL-puh


: a formal acknowledgment of personal fault or error

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").


The mayor's public mea culpa for his involvement in the scandal didn't satisfy his critics.

"The internal investigation ended with a mea culpa from the sheriff's department and a reprimand and reassignment for a deputy overseeing the property room." — Allie Morris, The Houston Chronicle, 15 Nov. 2018

Word Family Quiz

What is the meaning of the phrase felix culpa? (Hint: like mea culpa, it's rooted in religion.)



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