\ ˈkrīm How to pronounce crime (audio) \

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 How to pronounce crimeless (audio) \ 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 In contrast to physical crime, which requires proximity, cybercrime gives attackers global reach. Cormac Herley, Scientific American, "Don't Feel Guilty About Your Online Security Habits," 10 Sep. 2020 For men who lived in high-crime neighborhoods, always communities of color, the dragnet descended and never let up. ProPublica, "Over a Dozen Black and Latino Men Accused a Cop of Humiliating, Invasive Strip Searches. The NYPD Kept Promoting Him.," 10 Sep. 2020 Hogan was best known for her four true-crime books, all of which fleshed out chilling murders. Rachel Desantis,, "What to Know About Author Shanna Hogan, Who Died at 38 After Pool Accident in Front of Son," 9 Sep. 2020 The request caught the attention of many residents, who appeared at the meeting and expressed concerns that ranged from environmental issues to noise, crime, a decrease in property values and traffic problems. Stephen Simpson, Arkansas Online, "Panel denies rezoning bid for North Little Rock convenience store after residents air concerns," 9 Sep. 2020 The black community wants more police officers in high-crime neighborhoods for protection. Jason L. Riley, WSJ, "Are You Ready for Some Political Football?," 8 Sep. 2020 The networks will have to lean on reality shows, game shows and true-crime anthologies for original content this fall. Jeanne Jakle,, "12 new fall 2020 TV shows to watch during a season upended by the coronavirus," 8 Sep. 2020 Bolstering recreational, mentoring, educational and employment opportunities — especially for young people — all help drive down crime, including violence. Ramon Antonio Vargas | Staff Writer,, "The alarming 2020 murder rate in New Orleans isn't unexpected. It highlights a historic low in 2019.," 7 Sep. 2020 Serious violent crime, including stabbings, has risen sharply in Britain in recent years. Anna Schaverien, New York Times, "Manhunt Underway After Stabbings in Birmingham, England," 6 Sep. 2020

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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Time Traveler for crime

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for crime

Last Updated

13 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Crime.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for crime


How to pronounce crime (audio)

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 How to pronounce crime (audio) \

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 How to pronounce crime (audio) \

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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