Cultural Watch

mea culpa – Word of the Day


Mea Culpa / mey-uhkuhl-puh, mee-uh



An acknowledgment of one’s responsibility for a fault or error


my fault! (used as an acknowledgment of one’s responsibility


Facebook was reluctant, however, to issue any mea culpas or action plans with regard to the problem of filter bubbles or Facebook’s noted propensity to serve as a tool for amplifying outrage. — Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein, “Inside the Two Years That Shook Facebook–and the World,” Wired, February 12, 2018


Aging Roman Catholics who were altar boys before the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) can recite from memory the formula from the Confiteor at the beginning of Mass: meā culpā, meā culpā, meā maximā culpā, traditionally translated “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” The Latin phrase was first used in the 13th century as an exclamation or interjection. The noun use of mea culpa, “acknowledgment of responsibility or guilt,” arose in the 19th century.

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