com·​plic·​i·​ty | \kəm-ˈpli-s(ə-)tē \
plural complicities

Definition of complicity 

1 : association or participation in or as if in a wrongful act arrested for complicity in the crime

2 : an instance of complicity The two share a complicity she calls fraternal.— Joan Dupont

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Synonyms for complicity


collusion, connivance, conspiracy

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Examples of complicity in a Sentence

There's no proof of her complicity in the murder. He acted with his brother's complicity.

Recent Examples on the Web

Your complicity in anything that stems from this administration will not be forgiven in the future. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "Why Stripping U.S. Citizens of Their Passports Is a Precursor to Genocide," 7 Sep. 2018 The author of the document — retired Vatican ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano — said Francis should resign for his complicity in the McCarrick scandal, which has implicated two decades' worth of U.S. and Vatican church leaders. Nicole Winfield, Fox News, "Pope laments abuse in 1st post-bombshell Vatican appearance," 29 Aug. 2018 To the legendary performance artist Lorraine O’Grady, whose work has long engaged the issue of museums’ racial exclusiveness, the Whitney’s silence on the question of their institutional complicity was not news. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "‘Open Casket’ and the Question of Empathy," 28 Mar. 2017 An obvious example is the law passed recently criminalizing speech that imputes to Poland complicity in the Holocaust. Tunku Varadarajan, WSJ, "If America Is Divided, So Is Europe," 6 July 2018 Italian and Maltese prosecutors have opened investigations against some humanitarian groups, accusing them of complicity with traffickers. Washington Post, "Pope denounces ‘sterile hypocrisy’ of anti-migrant policies," 6 July 2018 Many who disagree with the policies and tone of Trump and his administration believe silence is complicity. Mary Jordan,, "Shaming and shunning of public officials is no longer off limits," 25 June 2018 But the piece that really nailed the heart of the problem—and the media’s potential complicity—for me is this Ringer post by Lindsay Zoladz. Kristen Bellstrom, Fortune, "#MeToo Comebacks, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose: Broadsheet April 23," 23 Apr. 2018 Sheffer’s pivot from describing deadly Nazi conceptions of community to Asperger’s complicity with the Reich’s killing machine is less effective. Seth Mnookin, New York Times, "Was Autism a Nazi Invention?," 18 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'complicity.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of complicity

circa 1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for complicity

see complice

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Statistics for complicity

Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for complicity

The first known use of complicity was circa 1656

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English Language Learners Definition of complicity

: the act of helping to commit a crime or do wrong in some way

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