\ˈkrīm \

Definition of crime 

1 : an illegal act for which someone can be punished by the government especially : a gross violation of law

2 : a grave offense especially against morality

3 : criminal activity efforts to fight crime

4 : something reprehensible, foolish, or disgraceful It's a crime to waste good food.

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Other Words from crime

crimeless \ˈkrīm-​ləs \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for crime

offense, sin, vice, crime, scandal mean a transgression of law. offense applies to the infraction of any law, rule, or code. at that school no offense went unpunished sin implies an offense against moral or religious law. the sin of blasphemy vice applies to a habit or practice that degrades or corrupts. regarded gambling as a vice crime implies a serious offense punishable by the law of the state. the crime of murder scandal applies to an offense that outrages the public conscience. a career ruined by a sex scandal

Examples of crime in a Sentence

She paid dearly for her crimes. evidence that helped them solve the crime He was punished for a crime that he didn't commit. the recent increase in violent crime Being single is not a crime. There's no greater crime than forgetting your anniversary.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The Magnitsky Act aims to curb human rights violations around the world by prohibiting access to the United States and its banking system by individuals who commit heinous crimes. Alex Ward, Vox, "Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it.," 15 Nov. 2018 Investigators concluded there was no probable cause to show that Mr. Mylett committed any crime. Sara Jean Green, The Seattle Times, "Bellevue police chief cleared of wrongdoing after allegations led to criminal probe," 22 Oct. 2018 Sporting events take a bite out of crime in the Windy City. Lacy Schley, Discover Magazine, "Game Time," 28 Sep. 2018 Frans Meermans promises to expose Johannes as a gay man, which in 17th-century Amsterdam was a crime punishable by death. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "The Miniaturist Star Anya Taylor-Joy Talks Marin's Secret and This Episode's Most Shocking Scene," 17 Sep. 2018 Two stars were rumored to be guilty of this Cribs crime: the first being Damon Dash, who allegedly rented Mariah Carey's London home for his episode. Danielle Tullo, House Beautiful, "5 Times MTV Cribs Totally Lied To Us," 27 Aug. 2018 Getty Images Special council Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election has led to multiple charges of financial crimes for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Jeff Andrews, Curbed, "Why financial criminals use real estate to launder money," 10 Aug. 2018 Yellow tape crossed Essex at 79th Street and farther south on the block, creating a crime scene within the larger perimeter. Hannah Leone,, "Man in custody after exchanging gunfire with police in South Chicago," 14 July 2018 The Harris County District Attorney's office will host its second Make it Right! event on Saturday, allowing people to clear their records of pending warrants for low-level misdemeanor crimes. Brian Rogers, Houston Chronicle, "Harris DA to host Make it Right event to resolve open misdemeanor warrants," 13 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'crime.' 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 crime

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for crime

Middle English, "wrongdoing, sin," borrowed from Anglo-French, going back to Latin crīmin-, crīmen "accusation, charge, indictment, source of an accusation, misdeed, offense," probably from crī-, variant stem of cernere "to sift, discern, decide, determine" + -men, resultative noun suffix (probably originally "decision," then "judicial decision, indictment") — more at certain entry 1

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Statistics for crime

Last Updated

19 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for crime

The first known use of crime was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for crime



English Language Learners Definition of crime

: an illegal act for which someone can be punished by the government

: activity that is against the law : illegal acts in general

: an act that is foolish or wrong


\ˈkrīm \

Kids Definition of crime

1 : the act of doing something forbidden by law or the failure to do an act required by law

2 : an act that is foolish or wrong It's a crime to waste food.


\ˈkrīm \

Legal Definition of crime 

1 : conduct that is prohibited and has a specific punishment (as incarceration or fine) prescribed by public law — compare delict, tort

2 : an offense against public law usually excluding a petty violation — see also felony, misdemeanor

Note: Crimes in the common-law tradition were originally defined primarily by judicial decision. For the most part, common-law crimes are now codified. There is a general principle “nullum crimen sine lege,” that there can be no crime without a law. A crime generally consists of both conduct, known as the actus reus, and a concurrent state of mind, known as the mens rea.

3 : criminal activity

History and Etymology for crime

Middle French, from Latin crimen fault, accusation, crime

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More from Merriam-Webster on crime

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with crime

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for crime

Spanish Central: Translation of crime

Nglish: Translation of crime for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of crime for Arabic Speakers

Comments on crime

What made you want to look up crime? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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