from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Easily excused or forgiven; pardonable.
  • adjective Roman Catholic Church Minor, therefore warranting only temporal punishment.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • noun A venial sin or offense.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Capable of being forgiven; not heinous; excusable; pardonable.
  • adjective obsolete Allowed; permitted.
  • adjective (R. C. Theol.) a sin which weakens, but does not wholly destroy, sanctifying grace, as do mortal, or deadly, sins.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Pardonable; able to be forgiven
  • adjective Excusable; trifling

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

  • adjective warranting only temporal punishment
  • adjective easily excused or forgiven


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

[Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin veniālis, from Latin venia, forgiveness; see wen- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French venial, from Late Latin veniālis ("pardonable"), from Latin venia ("forgiveness")



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  • A venial sin is not a mortal sin.

    August 12, 2008

  • venial means to forgive or pardon

    His traffic violations ran the gamut from the venial to the egregious—on one occasion he simply did not come to a complete stop; another time he tried to escape across state lines at speeds in excess of 140 mph.

    October 29, 2017