Culpable vs liable

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Culpable means deserving blame, guilty, morally responsible. Culpable may be used in a legal sense or a non-legal sense. Culpable is derived from the Latin word culpabilis, which means blame-worthy. Related words are culpability, culpably, culpableness.

Liable means legally responsible. Liable does not imply moral responsibility, one may be liable or legally responsible for something actually outside of one’s control. Liable might also mean susceptible to, or likely. Liable comes from the Latin word ligare, which means to tie or bind. Related words are liability, liableness. Remember, culpable may or may not be used to mean legally responsible, liable only means legally responsible. Culpable refers to moral guilt, liable does not imply moral responsibility, only legal responsibility.


The Crown, led by prosecutor Trent Hickey, has accused Richardson of culpable driving causing death and culpable driving causing grievous bodily harm. (The Canberra Times)

Police personnel found culpable of indiscriminate killing will face wrath of the law – Arase (The Daily Post Nigeria)

A 16-year-old youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted of culpable homicide last month after a jury at the High Court in Aberdeen ruled against a charge of murder following a five-day trial. (The Herald Scotland)

A security company isn’t liable for the theft of more than $60 million worth of prescription drugs from pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly’s warehouse in Connecticut six years ago, a federal jury in Florida says. (The Indianapolis Star)

A Colorado city is considering a regulation that would hold party hosts legally liable for underage marijuana and alcohol use. (The Colorado Springs Gazette)

Orbit Homes says it is not liable for the raw sewage which flooded the new home of a Burton Latimer family just two months after they moved in. (The Northhamptonshire Telegraph)