At a Catholic Mass (Roman rite) people sometimes say (either in vernacular or Latin): "Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, et vobis fratres, quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo, opere et omissione: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, omnes Angelos et Sanctos, et vos, fratres, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum."

Would the meaning change a bit if I changed "mea culpa" to "culpa mea" even if Latin doesn't care about word order?

2 Answers 2


No, the meaning would not change. Mea culpa and culpa mea both mean “my fault.” There is a tendency that when the possessive comes first, it is emphasized (my fault, not yours), and when it comes second, the noun is emphasized. But the meaning itself is unaffected.


It's not quite clear what you mean by "would the meaning change a bit". The denotative meaning (what the words explicitly mean as such) wouldn't change at all, but the connotative meaning (what the words imply in their wider context) would shift slightly, since putting the possessive first emphasizes it. So culpa mea still means "my fault", but it lacks the emphasis of mea culpa, which could also be translated as "my own fault" to convey the emphasis.

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