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sin, crime, fault, indiscretion, offense, transgression, vice
If you've ever driven through a red light or chewed with your mouth open, you've committed an offense, which is a broad term covering any violation of the law or of standards of propriety and taste. A sin, on the other hand, is an act that specifically violates a religious, ethical, or moral standard ( to marry someone of another faith was considered a sin). Transgression is a weightier and more serious word for sin, suggesting any violation of an agreed-upon set of rules ( their behavior was clearly a transgression of the terms set forth in the treaty). A crime is any act forbidden by law and punishable upon conviction ( a crime for which he was sentenced to death). A vice has less to do with violating the law and more to do with habits and practices that debase a person's character ( alcohol was her only vice). Fault and indiscretion are gentler words, although they may be used as euphemisms for sin or crime. A fault is an unsatisfactory feature in someone's character ( she is exuberant to a fault), while indiscretion refers to an unwise or improper action ( speaking to the media was an indiscretion for which she was chastised). In recent years, however, indiscretion has become a euphemism for such sins as adultery, as if to excuse such behavior by attributing it to a momentary lapse of judgment ( his indiscretions were no secret).