• Criminal



    From Middle English, from Anglo-Norman criminal, from Late Latin criminalis, from Latin crimen ("crime")

    Full definition of criminal



    1. Being against the law; forbidden by law.
      • AddisonFoppish and fantastic ornaments are only indications of vice, not criminal in themselves.
    2. Guilty of breaking the law.
      • RogersThe neglect of any of the relative duties renders us criminal in the sight of God.
    3. Of or relating to crime or penal law.
      • HallamThe officers and servants of the crown, violating the personal liberty, or other right of the subject ... were in some cases liable to criminal process.
    4. His long criminal record suggests that he is a dangerous man.
    5. (figuratively) Abhorrent or very undesirable, even if allowed by law.''Printing such asinine opinions without rebuttal is criminal, even when not libel!

    Usage notes

    Nouns to which "criminal" is often applied: law, justice, court, procedure, prosecution, intent, case, record, act, action, behavior, code, offence, liability, investigation, conduct, defense, trial, history, responsibility, lawyer, tribunal, appeal, process, background, mind, conspiracy, evidence, gang, organization, underworld, jurisprudence, offender, jury, police, past, group, punishment, attorney, violence, report, career, psychology.




    (plural criminals)
    1. A person who is guilty of a crime, notably breaking the law.
      • 1963, Margery Allingham, The China Governess Chapter 3, ‘… There's every Staffordshire crime-piece ever made in this cabinet, and that's unique. The Van Hoyer Museum in New York hasn't that very rare second version of Maria Marten's Red Barn over there, nor the little Frederick George Manning—he was the criminal Dickens saw hanged on the roof of the gaol in Horsemonger Lane, by the way—’
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