noun plural me·a cul·pas.
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Origin of mea culpa
Words nearby mea culpa
What does mea culpa mean?
Mea culpa is the Latin way of saying my bad. It literally means “through my (own) fault.”
Mea culpa can be used as an interjection (much like my fault or my bad) or as a noun referring to an apology, as in The senator offered a mea culpa during the press conference.
Example: Dave usually has a hard time admitting he’s wrong, so his mea culpa means a lot.
Where does mea culpa come from?
Mea culpa is a direct loan of a Latin phrase meaning ‘through my (own) fault.” It’s made of the parts mea, meaning “by me” or “through me,” and culpa, meaning “fault.” Culpa is also the root of the words culpable, meaning “deserving blame,” and culprit, meaning “a person guilty of something.”
The phrase mea culpa comes from a Roman Catholic prayer for confessing sin and seeking forgiveness. One line of the prayer is mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, which is usually translated as “through my own fault, through my own fault, through my most grievous fault.”
The phrase was borrowed directly from this prayer and has been in use as an admission of guilt since at least the 1200s. The noun form referring to an apology seems to be much newer, with the first records of it coming from the 1800s. The phrase is now commonly used both ways. When you eat your roommate’s leftover burrito without asking, you could say mea culpa, or you could offer a mea culpa by admitting that you did it and saying that you’re sorry. Or you could just stop eating your roommate’s food!
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How is mea culpa use in real life?
When used as an interjection, mea culpa is usually used to apologize for minor offenses and often has a lighthearted tone. But this is not necessarily the case when it’s used as a noun—it could be used for major admissions of guilt.
Credit where credit is due. @nntaleb and @normonics foresaw the whipsaw panic that those of us taking a "wait and see" approach, discounted. Had voluntary measures been widespread early on, public confidence might be higher, and some of the current disruption avoided. Mea culpa. https://t.co/QstEpFMgU2
— Casey B. Head (@CaseyBHead) March 9, 2020
So apparently Merril Hoge, on ESPN this morning, called Tim Tebow a phony. This is a guy who offered a mea culpa to Tebow two years ago.
— OnlyGators.com 🐊 Florida Gators news (@onlygators) December 24, 2012
From what I've seen a # of folks who were caught up are thankful that they were checked and issued a mea culpa. If folks aren't adult enough to acknowledge that they were sucked in by a deception – and use it as a learning experience, perhaps Twitter isn't the place for them.
— The Rose Lady (@The_Rose_Lady) March 25, 2018
Try using mea culpa!
Is mea culpa used correctly in the following passage?
You’re right—I messed up the accounts. Mea culpa.
Example sentences from the Web for mea culpa
So he’s about to offer a rare mea culpa — and undertake an ambitious plan to remake programming at MTV and sister units, including Comedy Central, VH1 and even Paramount Plus.In a rare admission, MTV says its mental-health portrayals are sometimes damaging|Steven Zeitchik|April 1, 2021|Washington Post
How Facebook wrote its rules for TrumpZuckerberg’s testimony will not be a mea culpa.Big tech CEOs face lawmakers in House hearing on social media’s role in extremism, misinformation|Gerrit De Vynck, Cat Zakrzewski, Elizabeth Dwoskin, Rachel Lerman|March 25, 2021|Washington Post
As a lighthearted mea culpa, the introductory video for Neutron showed Beck eating his own hat.
Speaking to reporters outside his home, he offered an explanation that doubled as a mea culpa.One night in Cancun: Ted Cruz’s disastrous decision to go on vacation during Texas storm crisis|Ashley Parker|February 19, 2021|Washington Post
Jackson and the other “Countdown” hosts all gave mea culpas on the show that aired the Sunday after Limbaugh’s comments.Nearly 20 years ago, Rush Limbaugh lost his ESPN job because he wouldn’t stick to sports|Matt Bonesteel|February 18, 2021|Washington Post
On August 17, just a few weeks before the fall campaign iced off, he had to go on national TV to offer a mea kinda sorta culpa.
In Washington, where politicians have mastered the art of the mea culpa, those words would not normally warrant much attention.
Like Gates, I also lost my policy objectivity—mea culpa—but for all the right reasons, as I believed then and still do.
Now I think Obama was right to do that mea culpa bit last week.It’s Time for Obama to Go on Offense on Health Care|Michael Tomasky|November 19, 2013|DAILY BEAST
At the end, the two embraced and Eminem flicked off the crowd, a middle-finger mea culpa.Eminem’s Homophobic ‘Rap God’ Lyrics Are Getting a Free Pass|Kevin Fallon|October 18, 2013|DAILY BEAST
Benign respdit pater ipse Membertou neophytos se esse, verum imperarem; in mea potestate esse omnia.
Neither Power has been able to avoid the feeling, mea res agitur, paries cum proximus ardet.The Cradle of Mankind|W.A. Wigram
"Oh, yes, I am sure you would run away if the armoured knight with his wild eyes should come nearer," said Mea.
Mea, who was sitting on the bench under the large apple tree, with a book, put aside the volume and came running.
"She certainly could move her proud stilts a little quicker when she sees how Mea is running," Kurt said angrily.