[vee-nee-uhl, veen-yuhl]


able to be forgiven or pardoned; not seriously wrong, as a sin (opposed to mortal).
excusable; trifling; minor: a venial error; a venial offense.

Origin of venial

1250–1300; Middle English < Medieval Latin veniālis, equivalent to Latin veni(a) grace, favor, indulgence (akin to venus; see venerate, Venus) + -ālis -al1
Related formsve·ni·al·i·ty, ve·ni·al·ness, nounve·ni·al·ly, adverbun·ve·ni·al, adjectiveun·ve·ni·al·ly, adverbun·ve·ni·al·ness, nounun·ve·ni·al·i·ty, noun
Can be confusedvenal venial

Synonyms for venial Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for venial

Contemporary Examples of venial

  • The SEC charging Goldman with securities fraud is like the Vatican charging a priest with venial sin.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Fallacy of 'Fraud'

    Alan M. Dershowitz

    April 17, 2010

Historical Examples of venial

  • Now that she was caught, she no longer thought of her offense as venial.

    Hooking Watermelons

    Edward Bellamy

  • Those who keep the fast "will be pardoned all their past venial sins."

  • Things must not be done in him which are venial in the week-day classes.

  • Yet it appeared to me that we were all, at Bly, sufficiently sacrificed to make that venial.

  • The Bibliotaph could not be convinced that his sin of autograph collecting was not venial.

    The Bibliotaph

    Leon H. Vincent

British Dictionary definitions for venial



easily excused or forgivena venial error
Derived Formsveniality (ˌviːnɪ'ælɪtɪ), nounvenially, adverb

Word Origin for venial

C13: via Old French from Late Latin veniālis, from Latin venia forgiveness; related to Latin venus love
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 venial

c.1300, from Old French venial, from Latin venialis "pardonable," from venia "forgiveness, indulgence, pardon," related to venus "sexual love, desire" (see Venus).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper