mea culpa

mea cul·​pa | \ ˌmā-ə-ˈku̇l-pə How to pronounce mea culpa (audio) , ˌmā-ä-, -ˈku̇l-(ˌ)pä \

Essential Meaning of mea culpa

: a statement in which you say that something is your fault The mayor's public mea culpa didn't satisfy his critics. (humorous) Okay, so maybe I misjudged you. Mea culpa!

Full Definition of mea culpa

: 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") and culprit ("one guilty of a crime or a fault").

Examples of mea culpa in a Sentence

The mayor's public mea culpa didn't satisfy his critics.
Recent Examples on the Web Biden did call and deliver some version of a mea culpa in March 2019, weeks before announcing his presidential run. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, 28 Sep. 2021 Thankfully, the company has a mea culpa in the form of Metroid Dread, which returns the series to its original 2-D roots. Luke Winkie, Vulture, 3 Sep. 2021 The all-new Siri Remote, bundled with the refreshed Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD, is a mea culpa from Apple to all the haters. Steven Aquino, Forbes, 27 May 2021 The Netflix co-founder is the biggest individual donor in the recall race, a move that some commentators have called a mea culpa for donating more than twice that amount to Newsom’s top opponent in 2017, former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Sam Dean Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 5 Sep. 2021 Kevin offers a mea culpa for saying last week that Taylor Hearn didn’t look like a starter for the Rangers [17:09], and Evan lectures on the importance of college scheduling [27:30]. Dallas News, 31 Aug. 2021 Just a week after posting a lengthy mea culpa for his homophobic remarks during last month's Rolling Loud Miami set, DaBaby appears to have taken down the statement from his Instagram page. Andrea Towers,, 8 Aug. 2021 Then that country singer did a mea culpa sketch with Jason Bateman. Bethy Squires, Vulture, 27 May 2021 Nichols’ on-air mea culpa came after the New York Times published a report detailing the fallout from her comments, which were recorded without her knowledge and subsequently shared around the network nearly a year ago. cleveland, 6 July 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mea culpa.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of mea culpa

1602, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for mea culpa

Latin, through my fault

Learn More About mea culpa

Time Traveler for mea culpa

Time Traveler

The first known use of mea culpa was in 1602

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About mea culpa

Dictionary Entries Near mea culpa


mea culpa


See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for mea culpa

Last Updated

1 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Mea culpa.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Nov. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on mea culpa

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for mea culpa

Nglish: Translation of mea culpa for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!