[ kuhl-puh; Latin koo l-pah ]
/ ˈkʌl pə; Latin ˈkʊl pɑ /

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

Definition for culpa (2 of 2)

mea culpa
[ mey-uh kuhl-puh, mee-uh; Latin me-ah kool-pah ]
/ ˈmeɪ ə ˈkʌl pə, ˈmi ə; Latin ˈmɛ ɑ ˈkʊl pɑ /


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. 2020

Examples from the Web for culpa

British Dictionary definitions for culpa (1 of 2)

/ (ˈkʊlpɑː) /

noun plural -pae (-piː)

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

Word Origin for culpa

Latin: fault

British Dictionary definitions for culpa (2 of 2)

mea culpa
/ Latin (ˈmeɪɑː ˈkʊlpɑː) /

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

Cultural definitions for culpa

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.