Definition of culprit in English:


Line breaks: cul|prit
Pronunciation: /ˈkʌlprɪt


1A person who is responsible for a crime or other misdeed: the car’s front nearside door had been smashed in but the culprits had fled
More example sentences
  • The culprits behaved like seasoned thugs but claimed that they were guardians of law and order.
  • Police and all concerned parties are working together to bring the culprit or culprits to justice.
  • He alerted a police patrol at the top of the road and officers quickly arrived, by which time the culprits had fled.
guilty party, offender, wrongdoer, person responsible;
informal baddy, bad guy, wrong 'un, crook, crim
Law malfeasant, misfeasor, infractor
archaic miscreant
1.1The cause of a problem or defect: low-level ozone pollution is the real culprit
More example sentences
  • But she said supermarkets were the real culprits for selling alcohol to under-age drinkers.
  • The real culprit is poverty, disease and starvation.
  • The real culprit is the unchecked fragmentation of land holdings in the rural areas.


late 17th century (originally in the formula Culprit, how will you be tried?, said by the Clerk of the Crown to a prisoner pleading not guilty): perhaps from a misinterpretation of the written abbreviation cul. prist for Anglo-Norman French Culpable: prest d'averrer notre bille '(You are) guilty: (We are) ready to prove our indictment'; in later use influenced by Latin culpa 'fault, blame'.

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