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Supposedly vs. Supposably


[vee-nee-uh l, veen-yuh l] /ˈvi ni əl, ˈvin yəl/
able to be forgiven or pardoned; not seriously wrong, as a sin (opposed to mortal).
excusable; trifling; minor:
a venial error; a venial offense.
Origin of venial
1250-1300; Middle English < Medieval Latin veniālis, equivalent to Latin veni(a) grace, favor, indulgence (akin to venus; see venerate, Venus) + -ālis -al1
Related forms
veniality, venialness, noun
venially, adverb
unvenial, adjective
unvenially, adverb
unvenialness, noun
unveniality, noun
Can be confused
venal, venial.
2. slight, pardonable, forgivable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for venial
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The Bibliotaph could not be convinced that his sin of autograph collecting was not venial.

    The Bibliotaph Leon H. Vincent
  • Those who keep the fast "will be pardoned all their past venial sins."

    The Faith of Islam Edward Sell
  • Alexius used money because he could not use force, to create dissensions and to win over the venial.

    Peter the Hermit Daniel A. Goodsell
  • Things must not be done in him which are venial in the week-day classes.

    The Way of All Flesh Samuel Butler
  • So thought the good-hearted Governor; and it seems a venial misconception.

    Lin McLean Owen Wister
  • Yet it appeared to me that we were all, at Bly, sufficiently sacrificed to make that venial.

    The Turn of the Screw Henry James
  • His linen is as well cared for as that of the confessor of the devotee, all whose sins are venial.

  • He, however, so softened his narrative as to leave it but a venial error.

    The Last Of The Barons, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • If shame be attached to her conduct, it is such shame as would be elsewhere felt for a venial impropriety.

British Dictionary definitions for venial


easily excused or forgiven: a venial error
Derived Forms
veniality (ˌviːnɪ'ælɪtɪ) noun
venially, adverb
Word Origin
C13: via Old French from Late Latin veniālis, from Latin venia forgiveness; related to Latin venus love
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for venial

c.1300, from Old French venial, from Latin venialis "pardonable," from venia "forgiveness, indulgence, pardon," related to venus "sexual love, desire" (see Venus).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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