• synonyms


[kuhl-puh; Latin koo l-pah]
noun, plural cul·pae [kuhl-pee; Latin koo l-pahy] /ˈkʌl pi; Latin ˈkʊl paɪ/.
  1. Roman and Civil Law. negligence; neglect (distinguished from dolus): One is not always liable before law for culpa resulting in damages.
  2. guilt; sin.
Show More

Origin of culpa

1250–1300; Old English < Latin: fault, liability, blame

mea culpa

[mey-uh kuhl-puh, mee-uh; Latin me-ah kool-pah]
  1. my fault! (used as an acknowledgment of one's responsibility).
Show More
noun plural me·a cul·pas.
  1. an acknowledgment of one's responsibility for a fault or error.
Show More

Origin of mea culpa

< Latin: through my fault
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for culpa

Historical Examples of culpa

  • I have no doubt that this recalcitrance to the crime-novel is a culpa, if not a culpa maxima.

    A History of the French Novel, Vol. 2

    George Saintsbury

  • Regarding this heresy, however, one may well say: Felix culpa.


    Th. Pascal

  • As the Romanist would say, we should apply a concrete standard of culpa.

  • But this is not the degree of culpa which can raise a misfortune to the pitch of a crime.

  • Etiam si quis a culpa vacuus in amicitiam ejus inciderat, quotidiano usu per similisque ceteris efficiebatur.

    St. Winifred's

    Frederic W. Farrar

British Dictionary definitions for culpa


noun plural -pae (-piː)
  1. civil law an act of neglect
  2. a fault; sin; guilt
Show More

Word Origin for culpa

Latin: fault

mea culpa

  1. an acknowledgment of guilt
Show More

Word Origin for mea culpa

literally: my fault
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

Word Origin and History for culpa

mea culpa

Latin, literally "I am to blame," a phrase from the prayer of confession in the Latin liturgy.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

culpa in Culture

mea culpa

[(may-uh kul-puh, kool-puh)]

An expression from Catholic ritual that assigns blame to oneself: “I gave you the wrong directions to my house — mea culpa.” From Latin, meaning “my fault” or “my blame.”

Show More
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.