Meaning of “criminal” in the English Dictionary

"criminal" in British English

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criminalnoun [ C ]

uk /ˈkrɪm.ɪ.nəl/ us /ˈkrɪm.ə.nəl/

B1 someone who commits a crime:

a dangerous/violent criminal

More examples

  • Today's problem child may be tomorrow's criminal.
  • The police officer told the criminal that he had the right to remain silent.
  • If you spend any time in prison, you're labelled as a criminal for the rest of your life.
  • Many of the country's toughest criminals are held in this prison.
  • Many people argue that allowing a criminal to go free is better that imprisoning an innocent person.

criminaladjective [ before noun ]

uk /ˈkrɪm.ɪ.nəl/ us /ˈkrɪm.ə.nəl/

B2 relating to crime:

criminal activity
a criminal act/offence
criminal behaviour
a criminal investigation

very bad or morally wrong:

It's criminal to charge so much for a book.
The way we waste this planet's resources is criminal.

More examples

  • To this day she remains impenitent about her criminal past.
  • When the authorities inquired into his background, they found he had a criminal record.
  • Researchers have just completed the largest-ever survey of criminal behaviour in the UK.
  • She has strenuously denied any criminal wrongdoing.
  • The 19-year-old will be appearing in court on Thursday where she will face criminal charges.
criminality
noun [ U ] uk /ˌkrɪm.ɪˈnæl.ə.ti/ us /ˌkrɪm.əˈnæl.ə.t̬i/
criminally
adverb uk /ˈkrɪm.ɪ.nəl.i/ us /ˈkrɪm.ə.nəl.i/

(Definition of “criminal” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"criminal" in American English

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criminaladjective

us /ˈkrɪm·ə·nəl/

involving or having the character of a crime:

She may face criminal charges for lying to a grand jury.
He had an extensive criminal record (= an official record of having committed many crimes).
The way she blames other people for her own mistakes is criminal (= wrong).
criminally
adverb [ not gradable ] us /ˈkrɪm·ə·nəl·i/

Parents can be held criminally responsible for their children’s actions.

criminalnoun [ C ]

us /ˈkrɪm·ə·nəl/

a person who has committed a crime or been found guilty of committing a crime

(Definition of “criminal” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"criminal" in Business English

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criminalnoun [ C ]

uk /ˈkrɪmɪnəl/ us LAW

a person who commits a crime:

a convicted criminal.

criminaladjective

uk /ˈkrɪmɪnəl/ us LAW

relating to crime, or to the laws, etc. that deal with crime:

a criminal act/offence
a criminal investigation

(Definition of “criminal” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)