crim·​i·​nal·​i·​ty | \ˌkri-mə-ˈna-lə-tē \

Definition of criminality 

1 : the quality or state of being criminal

2 : criminal activity urban criminality

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Synonyms for criminality


crime, lawbreaking, lawlessness

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Examples of criminality in a Sentence

criminality and physical violence often go hand in hand

Recent Examples on the Web

Failure to do so, the memo says, could see the country of 2 million slide into criminality, conflict and Islamic extremism. Drew Hinshaw, WSJ, "U.S. and EU—but Not Germany— Support Land Swap in Balkans," 29 Sep. 2018 The story is about their slow descent into outright criminality, juxtaposed with the way said descent changes their family, sometimes for the better (but often for the worse). Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "Ozark’s muddy season 2, explained in 11 incomprehensible screenshots," 1 Sep. 2018 Who decides that these traits actually signify criminality or risk? Diana Budds, Curbed, "Facial recognition is becoming one of the 21st century’s biggest public space issues," 19 Oct. 2018 More than at any time since the Taliban was ousted in 2001, rampant criminality has returned to the heart of Afghanistan’s politics. Javid Ahmad, WSJ, "The Mafia That Threatens Afghanistan," 19 Sep. 2018 Drug dealing has always been a major character in the persistent myth of the scourge of black criminality in rap music. Josie Duffy Rice, The Atlantic, "The Gospel According to Pusha T," 12 July 2018 Much of his alleged criminality occurred prior to his association with the Trump campaign. Peter Grier, The Christian Science Monitor, "Paul Manafort goes to jail: Three questions," 15 June 2018 The language, Jazmine Ulloa wrote, was part of a pattern of using rhetoric about criminality to dehumanize undocumented migrants. David Lauter,, "Faced with a political crisis, Trump blinks, but the crisis isn't close to being over," 22 June 2018 Police detectives eagerly adopted these methods, which linked criminality to specific physical traits like the shape of a person’s head or the size of his nose. Sarah Weinman, The New Republic, "Arthur Conan Doyle, True Detective," 14 June 2018

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

1611, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for criminality

criminal entry 1 + -ity, perhaps after French criminalité

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Statistics for criminality

Last Updated

28 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for criminality

The first known use of criminality was in 1611

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More Definitions for criminality


crim·​i·​nal·​i·​ty | \ˌkri-mə-ˈna-lə-tē \

Legal Definition of criminality 

1 : the quality or state of being criminal can't understand the criminality of his act

2 : crime sense 3 violent criminality

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More from Merriam-Webster on criminality

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with criminality

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for criminality

Britannica English: Translation of criminality for Arabic Speakers

Comments on criminality

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to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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