Share this entry

venial Line breaks: ve¦nial
Pronunciation: /ˈviːnɪəl/

Definition of venial in English:


Christian Theology
1Denoting a sin that is not regarded as depriving the soul of divine grace: we cannot prevent ourselves sometimes from dreaming of performing venial if not mortal sins everything I’ve disclosed up to now can be seen as venial Often contrasted with mortal.
More example sentences
  • Faught is guilty of this offense, but the sin is a venial one.
  • Yet despite their magnitude, these sins are of the venial rather than the mortal variety.
  • So does Michelle consider Tony's slip of the tongue and miraculous recovery of memory a venial or a mortal sin?
1.1(Of a fault or offence) slight and pardonable.
Example sentences
  • It was a venial mistake on Hume's part to include a reference to the mind's propensity in what was supposed to be a definition of causality.
  • Epstein openly admits to some ignoble if venial attitudes.
  • Even quite venial offenders were sentenced to death.
pardonable, forgivable, excusable, condonable, tolerable, permissible, allowable, understandable, justifiable;
slight, minor, unimportant, insignificant, trivial, trifling, not serious, all right, within accepted bounds


Middle English: via Old French from late Latin venialis, from venia 'forgiveness'.


Venal and venial are sometimes confused. Venal meanssusceptible to bribery, corrupt’, as in local customs officers are notoriously venal, whereas venial is used to refer to a sin or offence that is excusable or pardonable, as opposed to a mortal sin.



Pronunciation: /viːnɪˈalɪti/
Example sentences
  • Given the veniality of some of the poorest countries' administrations, this is a harsh call.
  • Maybe there is some connection here, but its very odd to describe anyone as motivated by veniality.
  • Is this supposed to show the veniality and pettiness of a typical cabinet office?


Example sentences
  • Stealing a candy bar, for example, may be judged venially sinful because of its relative parvity of matter.
  • It was at best only venially sinful for procreative purposes within marriage.
  • Envy can be mortally or venially sinful according to its degree of gravity and, as a capital sin, it leads to other sins.

Words that rhyme with venial

congenial, genial, menial

Definition of venial in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day coiffeur
Pronunciation: kwɑːˈfəː
a hairdresser