Venal or venial?

26 Apr
Venal or venial?

Another troublesome pair from near the end of the alphabet – and while we’re talking about alphabets, I’ll admit now (and sadly it will probably be true for any future readers, too; you’ll be amazed how many people search for these pairs years after I posted them) that I’m a bit behind with updating the index. However, if you use the Search feature (under menu on a mobile or in the right-hand column on a desktop) you will be able to find all of them.

OK, venal vs. venial.

If you are venal, it means you are susceptible to bribery, for example a corrupt politician or town planner.

Venial is quite different: it is used in a Christian context to describe a sin which is not seen as removing divine grace from the soul. It has therefore also come to mean, by extension, slight or pardonable, although I can’t personally recall seeing it used in this way in a non-religious context (or without any reference to religion) and I would advise using slight or pardonable instead if you want to use it in a secular context unless you’re very sure your audience will understand it.

Additional point: venial sins are contrasted with mortal sins, which are terrible, grave sins which do deprive the soul of divine grace.

You can find more troublesome pairs here, and here’s the index to them all!

1 Comment

Posted by on April 26, 2017 in Errors, Language use



One response to “Venal or venial?

  1. Don Massenzio

    April 27, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog.



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