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criminal Syllabification: crim·i·nal
Pronunciation: /ˈkrimənl/

Definition of criminal in English:


A person who has committed a crime: these men are dangerous criminals
More example sentences
  • One of the uses of capital punishment is to deter other criminals from committing more crimes.
  • Most heroin users were criminals who committed crimes before they ever used drugs.
  • A threat as harsh as death to all that commit a serious crime would deter some criminals.
thief, burglar, robber, armed robber, gunman, gangster, terrorist
informal crook, con, jailbird, hood, yardbird, perp
Law  malfeasant


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1Of or relating to a crime: he is charged with conspiracy to commit criminal damage
More example sentences
  • The crimes include shoplifting, assault, public order offences, theft and criminal damage.
  • After the verdict, he revealed that Bailey had a long record for theft, criminal damage and car crime.
  • He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for each of the spamming and criminal conspiracy offences.
unlawful, illegal, illicit, lawless, felonious, delinquent, fraudulent, actionable, culpable;
informal crooked
Law  malfeasant
1.1 Law Of or relating to crime as opposed to civil matters: a criminal court
More example sentences
  • Should the rules for disclosure be different for civil and criminal matters?
  • The principles applied by the civil / criminal court are sound and based on experience and aim at doing justice.
  • It is important to note, however, that the right covers civil as well as criminal litigation.
1.2 informal (Of an action or situation) deplorable and shocking: he may never fulfill his potential, and that would be a criminal waste
deplorable, shameful, reprehensible, disgraceful, inexcusable, unforgivable, unconscionable, unpardonable, outrageous, monstrous, shocking, scandalous, wicked


Late Middle English (as an adjective): from late Latin criminalis, from Latin crimen, crimin- (see crime).

Words that rhyme with criminal

liminal, subliminal
Definition of criminal in:
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