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[vee-nee-uh l, veen-yuh l] /ˈvi ni əl, ˈvin yəl/
able to be forgiven or pardoned; not seriously wrong, as a sin (opposed to mortal).
excusable; trifling; minor:
a venial error; a venial offense.
Origin of venial
1250-1300; Middle English < Medieval Latin veniālis, equivalent to Latin veni(a) grace, favor, indulgence (akin to venus; see venerate, Venus) + -ālis -al1
Related forms
veniality, venialness, noun
venially, adverb
unvenial, adjective
unvenially, adverb
unvenialness, noun
unveniality, noun
Can be confused
venal, venial.
2. slight, pardonable, forgivable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for venial
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Now that she was caught, she no longer thought of her offense as venial.

    Hooking Watermelons Edward Bellamy
  • Those who keep the fast "will be pardoned all their past venial sins."

    The Faith of Islam Edward Sell
  • Things must not be done in him which are venial in the week-day classes.

    The Way of All Flesh Samuel Butler
  • Yet it appeared to me that we were all, at Bly, sufficiently sacrificed to make that venial.

    The Turn of the Screw Henry James
  • The Bibliotaph could not be convinced that his sin of autograph collecting was not venial.

    The Bibliotaph Leon H. Vincent
  • He, however, so softened his narrative as to leave it but a venial error.

    The Last Of The Barons, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • What very different word is sometimes confounded with venial?

    English Synonyms and Antonyms James Champlin Fernald
  • I hope so small a divergence may seem a venial error after so many centuries.

    Sir Nigel Arthur Conan Doyle
  • To misuse and neglect the flag of his country was, indeed, no venial offense in his eyes.

    The Flag Homer Greene
British Dictionary definitions for venial


easily excused or forgiven: a venial error
Derived Forms
veniality (ˌviːnɪ'ælɪtɪ) noun
venially, adverb
Word Origin
C13: via Old French from Late Latin veniālis, from Latin venia forgiveness; related to Latin venus love
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for venial

c.1300, from Old French venial, from Latin venialis "pardonable," from venia "forgiveness, indulgence, pardon," related to venus "sexual love, desire" (see Venus).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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