A misdemeanor is a minor offense, rather than a serious crime. A minor infraction like keeping a library book for years or stealing a pack of bubblegum would be considered a misdemeanor.

A crime like murder is serious, a felony that can land the person who commits it in jail for a long time. A misdemeanor, on the other hand, is a far less serious offense. Commit a misdemeanor such as petty theft, and you might not get more than a slap on the wrist.

Definitions of misdemeanor

n a crime less serious than a felony

infraction, infringement, misdemeanour, violation
show 5 types...
hide 5 types...
breach of the peace, disorderly behavior, disorderly conduct, disturbance of the peace
any act of molesting, interrupting, hindering, agitating, or arousing from a state of repose or otherwise depriving inhabitants of the peace and quiet to which they are entitled
false pretence, false pretense
(law) an offense involving intent to defraud and false representation and obtaining property as a result of that misrepresentation
indecent exposure, public nudity
vulgar and offensive nakedness in a public place
bearing false witness, lying under oath, perjury
criminal offense of making false statements under oath
an illegal action inciting resistance to lawful authority and tending to cause the disruption or overthrow of the government
Type of:
crime, criminal offence, criminal offense, law-breaking, offence, offense
(criminal law) an act punishable by law; usually considered an evil act

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.