pec·​ca·​dil·​lo ˌpe-kə-ˈdi-(ˌ)lō How to pronounce peccadillo (audio)
plural peccadilloes or peccadillos
: 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 Yet the Biden Justice Department remains indifferent, as if the issue were merely the personal peccadillos of the president’s ne’er-do-well son, Hunter. Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, 25 May 2023 His audiences know that family peccadilloes are a cornerstone of that material, which nestles this fictional exploration of similar subject matter firmly in his comfort zone. Todd Gilchrist, Variety, 24 May 2023 But as the capital merry-go-round spun its peccadilloes, scandals and ballyhooed promises, his jaunty baritone restored order with bipartisan japes and irreverent songs to deflate the preening ego and the Big Idea. Presidents from Eisenhower to Trump caught the flak. Robert D. McFadden, New York Times, 30 Mar. 2023 What if the new boss’ weird peccadilloes — Patoff abolishes work-from-home, abruptly fires a staffer whose smell displeases him and thinks nothing of making 3 a.m. phone calls and demands — escalate? Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 23 Feb. 2023 The creep then uses these peccadilloes to blackmail ostensibly good folks into all sorts of weird behavior — like convincing a guilty-conscience police officer to undermine the investigation, and when the cops get close, even to commit murder on his behalf. Peter Debruge, Variety, 23 Feb. 2023 He’s simply been willing to overlook a peccadillo or two if the guy’s good enough. Dallas News, 20 Feb. 2023 Sadly, performance and build quality didn’t live up to the promise, and fewer than 9,000 units were made by the time the entire operation was shuttered following John DeLorean’s white-powder peccadillo. Robert Ross, Robb Report, 29 Aug. 2022 Consumption is the peccadillo; flossing is the pardon. New York Times, 10 Aug. 2021

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1591, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of peccadillo was in 1591


Dictionary Entries Near peccadillo

Cite this Entry

“Peccadillo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


pec·​ca·​dil·​lo ˌpek-ə-ˈdil-ō How to pronounce peccadillo (audio)
plural peccadilloes or peccadillos
: a slight offense or fault

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