[kuhl-puh; Latin koo l-pah]

noun, plural cul·pae [kuhl-pee; Latin koo l-pahy] /ˈkʌl pi; Latin ˈkʊl paɪ/.

Roman and Civil Law. negligence; neglect (distinguished from dolus): One is not always liable before law for culpa resulting in damages.
guilt; sin.

Origin of culpa

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

mea culpa

[mey-uh kuhl-puh, mee-uh; Latin me-ah kool-pah]


my fault! (used as an acknowledgment of one's responsibility).

noun plural me·a cul·pas.

an acknowledgment of one's responsibility for a fault or error.

Origin of mea culpa

< Latin: through my fault Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for culpa

Historical Examples of culpa

British Dictionary definitions for culpa


noun plural -pae (-piː)

civil law an act of neglect
a fault; sin; guilt

Word Origin for culpa

Latin: fault

mea culpa

an acknowledgment of guilt

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.

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.”

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.