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.