criminal

A criminal is someone who breaks the law. If you're a murderer, thief, or tax cheat, you're a criminal.

When you think of criminals, your first thought might be of someone awful like a murderer. But this word is a lot broader — Anyone who breaks the law is technically a criminal, even if the crime is just not paying a speeding ticket. You can also talk about criminal activities: things that are illegal. Lots of TV shows are about police officers and lawyers trying to catch criminals who are engaged in all kinds of exciting criminal activity.

Definitions of criminal
  1. noun
    someone who has committed a crime or has been legally convicted of a crime
    synonyms: crook, felon, malefactor, outlaw
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    examples:
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    William H. Bonney
    United States outlaw who was said to have killed 21 men (1859-1881)
    Jesse James
    United States outlaw who fought as a Confederate soldier and later led a band of outlaws that robbed trains and banks in the West until he was murdered by a member of his own gang (1847-1882)
    Robert MacGregor
    Scottish clan leader and outlaw who was the subject of a 1817 novel by Sir Walter Scott (1671-1734)
    Benedict Arnold
    United States general and traitor in the American Revolution; in 1780 his plan to surrender West Point to the British was foiled (1741-1801)
    John Wilkes Booth
    United States actor and assassin of President Lincoln (1838-1865)
    Alphonse Capone
    United States gangster who terrorized Chicago during prohibition until arrested for tax evasion (1899-1947)
    Guy Fawkes
    English conspirator who was executed for his role in a plot to blow up James I and the Houses of Parliament (1570-1606)
    Jack the Ripper
    an unidentified English murderer in the 19th century
    Jean Laffite
    French pirate who aided the United States in the War of 1812 and received an official pardon for his crimes (1780-1826)
    Sir Henry Morgan
    a Welsh buccaneer who raided Spanish colonies in the West Indies for the English (1635-1688)
    Titus Oates
    English conspirator who claimed that there was a Jesuit plot to assassinate Charles II (1649-1705)
    Lee Harvey Oswald
    United States assassin of President John F. Kennedy (1939-1963)
    Bartholomew Roberts
    a Welsh pirate credited with having taken more than 400 ships (1682-1722)
    Edward Thatch
    an English pirate who operated in the Caribbean and off the Atlantic coast of North America (died in 1718)
    Dick Turpin
    English highwayman (1706-1739)
    Khayr ad-Din
    Barbary pirate (died in 1546)
    types:
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    accessary, accessory
    someone who helps another person commit a crime
    arsonist, firebug, incendiary
    a criminal who illegally sets fire to property
    blackmailer, extortioner, extortionist
    a criminal who extorts money from someone by threatening to expose embarrassing information about them
    bootlegger, moonshiner
    someone who makes or sells illegal liquor
    briber, suborner
    someone who pays (or otherwise incites) you to commit a wrongful act
    coconspirator, conspirator, machinator, plotter
    a member of a conspiracy
    desperado, desperate criminal
    a bold outlaw (especially on the American frontier)
    fugitive, fugitive from justice
    someone who is sought by law officers; someone trying to elude justice
    gangster, mobster
    a criminal who is a member of gang
    highbinder
    a corrupt politician
    highjacker, hijacker
    someone who uses force to take over a vehicle (especially an airplane) in order to reach an alternative destination
    goon, hood, hoodlum, punk, strong-armer, thug, tough, toughie
    an aggressive and violent young criminal
    gaolbird, jail bird, jailbird
    a criminal who has been jailed repeatedly
    abductor, kidnaper, kidnapper, snatcher
    someone who unlawfully seizes and detains a victim (usually for ransom)
    mafioso
    a member of the Mafia crime syndicate in the United States
    gangster's moll, gun moll, moll
    the girlfriend of a gangster
    liquidator, manslayer, murderer
    a criminal who commits homicide (who performs the unlawful premeditated killing of another human being)
    parolee, probationer
    someone released on probation or on parole
    drug dealer, drug peddler, drug trafficker, peddler, pusher
    an unlicensed dealer in illegal drugs
    racketeer
    someone who commits crimes for profit (especially one who obtains money by fraud or extortion)
    raper, rapist
    someone who forces another to have sexual intercourse
    habitual criminal, recidivist, repeater
    someone who is repeatedly arrested for criminal behavior (especially for the same criminal behavior)
    scofflaw
    one who habitually ignores the law and does not answer court summonses
    contrabandist, moon curser, moon-curser, runner, smuggler
    someone who imports or exports without paying duties
    stealer, thief
    a criminal who takes property belonging to someone else with the intention of keeping it or selling it
    traitor, treasonist
    someone who betrays his country by committing treason
    law offender, lawbreaker, violator
    someone who violates the law
    apache
    a Parisian gangster
    absconder
    a fugitive who runs away and hides to avoid arrest or prosecution
    abetter, abettor
    one who helps or encourages or incites another
    accessory after the fact
    a person who gives assistance or comfort to someone known to be a felon or known to be sought in connection with the commission of a felony
    accessory before the fact
    a person who procures or advises or commands the commission of a felony but who is not present at its perpetration
    accessory during the fact
    a person who witnesses a crime but does not try to prevent it
    assassin, assassinator, bravo
    a murderer (especially one who kills a prominent political figure) who kills by a surprise attack and often is hired to do the deed
    bagman
    a racketeer assigned to collect or distribute payoff money
    bandit, brigand
    an armed thief who is (usually) a member of a band
    barnburner
    someone who burns down a barn
    booster, lifter, shoplifter
    a thief who steals goods that are in a store
    bully
    a hired thug
    burglar
    a thief who enters a building with intent to steal
    butcher
    a brutal indiscriminate murderer
    collaborationist, collaborator, quisling
    someone who collaborates with an enemy occupying force
    collaborator, confederate, henchman, partner in crime
    someone who assists in a plot
    coyote
    someone who smuggles illegal immigrants into the United States (usually across the Mexican border)
    crimp, crimper
    someone who tricks or coerces men into service as sailors or soldiers
    cutthroat
    someone who murders by cutting the victim's throat
    dacoit, dakoit
    a member of an armed gang of robbers
    defalcator, embezzler, peculator
    someone who violates a trust by taking (money) for his own use
    escapee
    someone who escapes
    fifth columnist, saboteur
    a member of a clandestine subversive organization who tries to help a potential invader
    fratricide
    a person who murders their brother or sister
    body snatcher, ghoul, graverobber
    someone who takes bodies from graves and sells them for anatomical dissection
    graverobber
    someone who steals valuables from graves or crypts
    gun, gun for hire, gunman, gunslinger, hired gun, hit man, hitman, shooter, torpedo, triggerman
    a professional killer who uses a gun
    arms-runner, gunrunner
    a smuggler of guns
    hatchet man, iceman
    a professional killer
    holdup man, stickup man
    an armed thief
    infanticide
    a person who murders an infant
    larcener, larcenist
    a person who commits larceny
    mass murderer
    a person who is responsible for the deaths of many victims in a single incident
    murderess
    a woman murderer
    parricide
    someone who kills his or her parent
    cutpurse, dip, pickpocket
    a thief who steals from the pockets or purses of others in public places
    literary pirate, pirate, plagiariser, plagiarist, plagiarizer
    someone who uses another person's words or ideas as if they were his own
    despoiler, freebooter, looter, pillager, plunderer, raider, spoiler
    someone who takes spoils or plunder (as in war)
    ripper
    a murderer who slashes the victims with a knife
    robber
    a thief who steals from someone by threatening violence
    rumrunner
    someone who illegally smuggles liquor across a border
    cattle thief, rustler
    someone who steals livestock (especially cattle)
    cracksman, safebreaker, safecracker
    a thief who breaks open safes to steal valuable contents
    serial killer, serial murderer
    someone who murders more than three victims one at a time in a relatively short interval
    seizer, shanghaier
    a kidnapper who drugs men and takes them for compulsory service aboard a ship
    snatcher
    a thief who grabs and runs
    pilferer, sneak thief, snitcher
    a thief who steals without using violence
    traitress
    female traitor
    yakuza
    a Japanese gangster
    yardie
    member of an international gang of Jamaican criminals who sell drugs and violence
    type of:
    principal
    (criminal law) any person involved in a criminal offense, regardless of whether the person profits from such involvement
  2. adjective
    involving or being or having the nature of a crime
    “a criminal offense”
    criminal abuse”
    synonyms: felonious
    illegal
    prohibited by law or by official or accepted rules
  3. adjective
    guilty of crime or serious offense
    criminal in the sight of God and man”
    Synonyms:
    guilty
    responsible for or chargeable with a reprehensible act
  4. adjective
    bringing or deserving severe rebuke or censure
    “a criminal waste of talent”
    synonyms: condemnable, deplorable, reprehensible, vicious
    wrong
    contrary to conscience or morality or law
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