\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

Probable cause requires enough evidence to convince the grand jury to have a reasonable belief that a crime was committed and that the target of the grand jury—here Conley—was responsible. Michael Mccann,, "Could Gareon Conley Legally Prove That Rape Allegation Caused Draft Slide, Financial Harm?," 12 July 2018 In one of her Klein’s cases before retiring in 2015, a young man who had served several years in prison for a drug crime came to court one morning. Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor, "With 'zero tolerance,' new strain on already struggling immigration courts," 9 July 2018 Hartman also trained Davis on projects relevant to the job and staffing issues related to the 16 patrol deputies, five detectives, five sergeants and office staff, senior volunteers and crime prevention staff at the substation. Julie Gallant, Ramona Sentinel, "Lt. Chris Davis takes charge of sheriff's Ramona substation," 3 July 2018 Undocumented immigrants who commit crimes are arrested and charged like anybody else in the city would be. Yvonne Abraham,, "The truth about Lawrence," 14 July 2018 The administration cited multiple reasons for the remaining 46 who had not been reunited, including crimes committed by the parents, The New York Times reported. Christianna Silva, Teen Vogue, "Children Separated from Their Parents at the U.S.-Mexico Border Deserve Mental Health Treatment, Lawsuit Says," 13 July 2018 Then in 2015, federal prosecutors appealed and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court ruled that the men must each serve five years, the mandatory for that crime. Jake Bullinger, Outside Online, "Trump’s Pardon Condones Western Rebellion," 12 July 2018 His lawyers previously asked Ellis to dismiss the charges against him, claiming that Mueller had exceeded his authority by pursuing a financial crimes case unrelated to the Russia investigation. Chris Megerian, Anchorage Daily News, "For Paul Manafort, an uncommonly comfortable life behind bars," 12 July 2018 Any information about this crime can be reported to the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department at 530-666-8282 or anonymously at 530-668-5248. Claire Morgan, sacbee, "Man arrested after attempted rape in Yolo County," 12 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

5 Nov 2018

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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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Comments on crime

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playful or foolish behavior

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