Be sure to visit the OxfordWords blog, where I’ve guest-authored another post. This time, it’s on origin of culprit:
Amnesia, disguises, and mistaken identities? No, these are not the plot twists of a blockbuster thriller or bestselling page-turner. They are the story of the word culprit. At first glance, the origin of culprit looks simple enough. Mea culpa, culpable, exculpate, and the more obscure inculpate: these words come from the Latin culpa, “fault” or “blame.” One would suspect that culprit is the same, yet we should never be so presumptuous when it comes to English etymology. Culprit is indeed connected to Latin’s culpa, but it just can’t quite keep its story straight.