Limited Vocabulary?
Who's to Blame?

Build vocabulary using the Latin root CULPA, meaning blame, fault, or crime.

There's no excuse for passing up the chance to put Latin roots into your lesson plans.

Latin Word of the Week (4/2/2008):


blame, fault, crime

You'll be amazed how many English derivatives come from this Latin noun meaning blame, fault, or crime. Give your students the power to understand English derivatives of this Latin root word.

Vocabulary Lesson Plan: CULPA

Prior Knowledge

Words that access prior knowledge help you and your students remember the meaning of the Latin root word.

culpable (adj): able to be blamed, deserving of blame. Neighborhood children egged the Latin teacher's house, but the culpable party was never found.

Brainstorming: Can you think of more derivatives?

exculpate (v): to free from blame, vindicate. DNA evidence exculpated the alleged killer.

exculpatory (adj): clearing from blame, tending to free from fault. After ten years, when exculpatory evidence came to light, the innocent man was freed from prison.

culprit (n): a person at fault or responsible for an offense. The cookies were definitely missing, and the four-year-old culprit was hiding in the broom closet.

culpatory (adj): expressing blame. The teacher struck a culpatory tone with her students, but deep inside she blamed herself for their low test scores.

exculpable (adj): able to be freed from blame. She loved her new puppy well enough, but cuteness did not make him exculpable for chewing her leather shoes.

inculpable (adj): unable to be blamed, guiltless, blameless. The governor thought himself inculpable for the state's economic woes, until he lost reelection.

inculpate (v): to blame, accuse. He inculpated his own mother for his depression and other mild psychological problems.

Latin in the Law

exculpatory no doctrine (n): in criminal law: one cannot be charged for making a false statement if that statement is a false denial of guilt in answering a federal officer's question.

Latin in English

culpa (n): evil intent involving malice and fraud.

mea culpa (n): through my fault; because of my sin. This Latin phrase is used to express regret over causing misfortune. I've had too much wine and I've ruined dinner for everyone -- mea culpa.

sua culpa (n/adv): by his own, her own, or their own fault. The team lost the game sua culpa, i.e. by missing so many free throws.

This is NOT an exhaustive list of English derivatives from CULPA!

Click here for a printable vocabulary puzzle!

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