criminal

adjective
crim·​i·​nal | \ ˈkri-mə-nᵊl How to pronounce criminal (audio) , 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

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Adjective

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 Central among the legislation that went into effect in 2014 and 2015 was a mandate that virtually anyone working with children in the state, including volunteers, had to undergo criminal background checks. USA Today, "‘The tongue is a fire’: Southern Baptist church fractures over secrets and spiritual abuse," 13 Feb. 2020 Clinton’s beginnings in-country were less criminal but still drug-fueled. Michael R. Shea, Outdoor Life, "Kayak Fishing Saved Lance Clinton’s Life," 11 Feb. 2020 Various algorithms embraced by the Philadelphia criminal justice system were designed by Richard Berk, a professor of criminology and statistics at Penn. Adam Satariano, BostonGlobe.com, "An algorithm that grants freedom, or takes it away," 8 Feb. 2020 Such a practice endangers the effective administration of justice and our confidence in the criminal justice system. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Exonerated: Charges dropped against pentesters paid to break into Iowa courthouse," 30 Jan. 2020 After the public hearing closed, members first took up Assemblyman Fred Dyson’s sales tax proposal to better fund the criminal justice system. Aubrey Wieber, Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage Assembly votes to send 5% alcohol tax to April ballot," 29 Jan. 2020 In 1974, in United States v. Nixon, however, the court stated that the privilege is not absolute, and must yield in some circumstances, such as a criminal investigation. Barbara L. Mcquade, The Conversation, "After the trial’s over, President Trump’s impeachment battles could determine who holds real power in the US government," 27 Jan. 2020 But the study found that most individuals were unaware of the services they were entitled to or were ineligible from receiving financial assistance while on probation or involved in the criminal justice system. Colleen Shalby, Los Angeles Times, "Oakland families of homicide victims say police add to trauma," 25 Jan. 2020 One of the contracts was signed by dos Santos herself, and another by Mario Leite da Silva, a key dos Santos aide who has been named as a suspect in Angola’s criminal investigation into her empire. Max De Haldevang, Quartz Africa, "Isabel dos Santos hired Trump-tied lobbyists right after learning of the Luanda Leaks," 23 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In all, 17 criminals were deported, but 25 were removed from the flight. Fox News, "Criminals with rape, manslaughter convictions spared deportation as UK court backs activists," 15 Feb. 2020 Here the migrants are exposed to the elements and criminals. Silvia Foster-frau, ExpressNews.com, "Asylum-seekers take charge of large Matamoros encampment," 14 Feb. 2020 Last year prosecutors revealed that an elite gun-crime task force was essentially acting as a rogue criminal enterprise. Sean Kennedy, WSJ, "‘The Wire’ Is Finished, but Baltimore Still Bleeds," 7 Feb. 2020 Pendley has praised the criminal Cliven Bundy clan, whose infamous armed standoffs against federal land regulators amounted to acts of domestic terrorism. Christopher Ketcham, The New Republic, "The Trump Official Who Could Obliterate Public Lands," 3 Feb. 2020 The federal prosecution came five years later, and ended with a jury convicting Kilpatrick of running a criminal enterprise out of the mayor's office to enrich himself and friends. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit rep's email asks for help to free Kilpatrick — and birthday party donations," 28 Jan. 2020 William Bratton, as chief of the transit police, launched a program of quality-of-life policing, by which cops pursued minor offenders, such as fare-beaters, as well as serious criminals. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 23 Jan. 2020 Government agencies have started contracting crypto-analytics firms like Chainalysis and CipherTrace to track down money launderers and other criminals. Matthew De Silva, Quartz, "Bitcoin money laundering is a classically dumb crime," 5 Dec. 2019 To watch him squander it for a life of playing gangster—smoking pot, buying guns, getting hideous tattoos, rubbing elbows with criminals—is depressing. Rumaan Alam, The New Republic, "Football Is the Villain in Aaron Hernandez’s True Crime Story," 24 Jan. 2020

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

Time Traveler for criminal

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for criminal

Last Updated

17 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Criminal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/criminals. Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for criminal

criminal

adjective
How to pronounce criminal (audio)

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 How to pronounce criminal (audio) \

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 How to pronounce criminal (audio) \

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

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

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!