1 : guilty of a moral offense : sinning
2 : violating a principle or rule : faulty
Did You Know?
Peccant comes from the Latin verb peccare, which means “to sin,” “to commit a fault,” or “to stumble,” and is related to the better-known English word peccadillo (“a slight offense”). Etymologists have suggested that peccare might be related to Latin ped- or pes, meaning “foot,” by way of an unattested adjective, peccus, which may have been used to mean “having an injured foot” or “stumbling.” Whether or not a connection truly exists between peccant and peccus, peccant itself involves stumbling of a figurative kind—making errors, for example, or falling into immoral, corrupt, or sinful behavior.
“Cavil at Dylan Thomas’s overdoings; praise this bit and dispraise that bit; but there he was, there he is, an emblem of poetry, which is Being itself…. And the world honored him for it, while chopping him to pieces…. It’s the loony, peccant villagers of Under Milk Wood…. It’s Auntie Hannah in ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales,’ who liked port, and who stood in the middle of the snowbound back yard, singing like a big-bosomed thrush.'” — James Parker, The Atlantic, December 2014