criminal

adjective
crim·i·nal | \ˈkri-mə-nᵊl, ˈkrim-nəl\

Definition of criminal 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : relating to, involving, or being a crime criminal neglect a criminal organization

2 : relating to crime or to the prosecution of suspects in a crime criminal statistics brought criminal action the criminal justice system

3 : guilty of crime also : of or befitting a criminal a criminal mind

4 : disgraceful It's criminal how unfunny this comedy is.— Rick Bentley

criminal

noun

Definition of criminal (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : one who has committed a crime

2 : a person who has been convicted of a crime

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from criminal

Adjective

criminally adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for criminal

Synonyms: Adjective

felonious, illegal, illegitimate, illicit, lawless, unlawful, wrongful

Synonyms: Noun

crook, culprit, lawbreaker, malefactor, miscreant, offender

Antonyms: Adjective

lawful, legal, legitimate

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of criminal in a Sentence

Adjective

a history of criminal behavior The captain of the wrecked boat was accused of criminal negligence. The company brought criminal charges against her. It's criminal that the government is doing nothing to stop the problem.

Noun

car thieves, pickpockets, burglars, and other criminals
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The police statement indicates reporting a false crime is a misdemeanor in Minnesota, but a criminal defense law expert told KARE that prosecution can be difficult. Jewel Wicker, Teen Vogue, "Viral Video Shows Black Boys Detained at a Park in Minnesota After 911 Caller Claimed They Had Weapons," 13 July 2018 President Trump faces at least four allegations of criminal misconduct. Doj, USA TODAY, "Live stream: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein holds press conference," 13 July 2018 On Thursday, Manafort was moved to a jail in Alexandria, Va., to await his criminal trial, which is scheduled to begin later this month. Rob Tornoe, Philly.com, "Ahead of Trump's meeting with Putin, Mueller indicts 12 Russians for hacking DNC emails," 13 July 2018 Federal prosecutors have levied criminal charges against a half-dozen Insys executives and the company’s billionaire founder, John Kapoor. Andy Marso, kansascity, "Another lawsuit accuses Overland Park doctor of kickbacks from opioid spray maker," 13 July 2018 Leon was arrested Wednesday morning in College Station and charged with criminal solicitation of capital murder. Fernando Ramirez, Houston Chronicle, "Third suspect in Texas teen's alleged murder-for-hire plot of father is arrested," 13 July 2018 Also, being in the U.S. without proper documents is a civil offense, not a criminal one. Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, "Woman’s MeToo moments lead to despair," 13 July 2018 As a result, more than 20 percent of all noncitizens who face deportation on criminal grounds are black, and black people are ultimately deported at a higher rate. Shamira Ibrahim, Daily Intelligencer, "Patricia Okoumou and the Threat to Black Immigrants," 13 July 2018 Some of his past convictions include burglary, vehicle theft, criminal mischief, weapons misconduct, trespassing and DUI. Matt Tunseth, Anchorage Daily News, "‘Life is completely not normal’: Chugiak family’s life turned upside down by burglary," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

When the cashier rings up the item, the criminal reveals his true intentions along with a gun. David J. Neal, miamiherald, "A robber stuck his fingers in the register. That's when the clerk made a quick move," 9 July 2018 These criminals are still on the run decades later. Joe Marusak, charlotteobserver, "Man finds pipe bomb in popular North Carolina mountain swimming hole," 2 July 2018 What happens to them depends on the details of their cases — most importantly, whether an adult has a U.S. criminal or crossing record. Michael Kiefer, azcentral, "What we know about 57 migrants rescued by Border Patrol in Arizona desert," 26 June 2018 Republicans – but in particular the president's strongest backers – are the most likely to say that at least some of those trying to enter are criminals or gang members, and 30 percent say most of them are. CBS News, "CBS News Battleground Tracker: Sharp divides over immigration, separation," 24 June 2018 How long until criminals are getting functional guns implanted in their forearms? Katie Walsh, Detroit Free Press, "Review: ‘Upgrade’ raises timely fears about technology," 31 May 2018 Terrorists and criminals: ISIS is widely known to use the internet to recruit followers, spread propaganda and raise money. Daniel Arkin /, NBC News, "Trump's decision to eliminate role of cybersecurity czar rattles experts. Here's why.," 16 May 2018 Federal and state authorities are generally concerned that handheld lasers, which have been getting cheaper and more powerful in recent years and are openly sold on the Web, could be used by a terrorist or a criminal to bring down an aircraft. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Man who hit cops with laser, then crashed as he fled, ordered to prison," 9 May 2018 With that in mind, do not expect Marchand’s situation to become a criminal or torts matter. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "A Look at the Possible Consequences of Brad Marchand's Tactic of Licking Opponents," 6 May 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of criminal

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1610, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for criminal

Adjective

Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French criminal, borrowed from Latin crīminālis, from crīmin-, crīmen "indictment, crime" + -ālis -al entry 1

Noun

derivative of criminal entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about criminal

Phrases Related to criminal

career criminal

criminal mind

criminal record

Statistics for criminal

Last Updated

29 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for criminal

The first known use of criminal was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for criminal

criminal

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of criminal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: involving illegal activity : relating to crime

: relating to laws that describe crimes rather than to laws about a person's rights

: morally wrong

criminal

noun

English Language Learners Definition of criminal (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who has committed a crime or who has been proved to be guilty of a crime by a court

criminal

adjective
crim·i·nal | \ˈkri-mə-nᵊl \

Kids Definition of criminal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : being or guilty of an act that is unlawful, foolish, or wrong

2 : relating to unlawful acts or their punishment criminal law

Other Words from criminal

criminally \-nᵊl-ē \ adverb

criminal

noun

Kids Definition of criminal (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who has committed an unlawful act

criminal

adjective
crim·i·nal | \ˈkri-mə-nəl \

Legal Definition of criminal 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : relating to, involving, or being a crime criminal neglect criminal conduct

2 : relating to crime or its prosecution brought a criminal action criminal code — compare civil sense 4, penal

criminal

noun

Legal Definition of criminal (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : one who has committed a crime

2 : a person who has been convicted of a crime

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on criminal

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a generally accepted meaning of a word

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!