A Word A Day : Culpable

Wednesday, 12th March 2008 : Today's Word is ...


( Adjective )

Pronunciation : kúlpa-b'l


1. Deserving of blame or censure as being wrong, evil, improper or injurious

2. Responsible for or chargeable with a reprehensible act


1. A person who is culpable (a culprit) is one who can be blamed for doing something.

2. To decide that a person is not culpable after all is to exculpate that person.


13th century - Via French - Latin culpabilis - culpare - to blame - culpa - fault, blame


blamable, blameful, blameworthy, censurable, guilty, reprehensible


blameless, inculpable, innocent, not guilty, right

Contextual Examples:

• The accountant’s failure to sport the errors made him culpable in the tax-fraud case.

• We all felt culpable when the homeless old man died in the doorway of our apartment building.

• As writers of travels among barbarous communities are generally very diffuse on these subjects, he deems it right to advert to what may be considered a culpable omission.

• The criminal was culpable in a whole series of crimes.

Related Words:

culpability : Noun

culpabeness : Noun

culpably : Adjective


Culpability generally implies that an act performed is wrong but does not involve any evil intent by the wrongdoer. The connotation of the term is fault rather than malice or a guilty purpose. It has limited significance in criminal law except in cases of reckless homicide in which a person acts negligently or demonstrates a reckless disregard for life, which results in another person's death.

Culpable ignorance is the lack of knowledge or understanding that results from the omission of ordinary care to acquire such knowledge or understanding.

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