from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Easily excused or forgiven; pardonable: a venial offense.
  • adj. Roman Catholic Church Minor, therefore warranting only temporal punishment.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Pardonable; able to be forgiven
  • adj. Excusable; trifling

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Capable of being forgiven; not heinous; excusable; pardonable.
  • adj. Allowed; permitted.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • That may be forgiven; pardonable; not very sinful or wrong: as, a venial sin or transgression. See sin, 1.
  • Excusable; that may be allowed or permitted to pass without severe censure.
  • Permissible; harmless; unobjectionable.
  • Synonyms and Venial, Excusable, Pardonable. Excusable and pardonable are applied to things small and great, but pardonable primarily applies to greater offenses, as pardoning is a more serious act than excusing. Excusable may be applied where the offense is only in seeming. Venial applies to things actually done; the others may apply to infirmities and the like. Venial, by theological use, is often opposed, more or less clearly, to mortal.
  • n. A venial sin or offense.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. warranting only temporal punishment
  • adj. easily excused or forgiven


Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin veniālis, from Latin venia, forgiveness; see wen-1 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French venial, from Late Latin veniālis ("pardonable"), from Latin venia ("forgiveness") (Wiktionary)



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  • A venial sin is not a mortal sin.

    August 12, 2008