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an action or an instance of negligence that is deemed injurious to the public welfare or morals or to the interests of the state and that is legally prohibited.
activity and those engaged in it:
to fight crime.
the habitual or frequent commission of crimes:
a life of crime.
any offense, serious wrongdoing, or sin.
a foolish, senseless, or shameful act:
It’s a crime to let that beautiful garden go to ruin.
Contemporary Examples

But if you take my bodily integrity without my consent, it’s not a crime at all, unless you also use force.
The Bogus Assange Rape Case Wendy Murphy December 12, 2010

Even if Woods managed to avoid directly implicating his wife in a crime, there’s apt to be plenty of forensic evidence.
Was Tiger a Victim? Wendy Murphy November 29, 2009

When Americans think about ordinary matters of crime and punishment, economics are key.
Death Penalty Survives In California, But Three-Strikes Law Cut Back David R. Dow November 8, 2012

Not a crime, by any means, but why, I shake my fist at the sky, why did they have to go there?
Really Big Love Marianne Kirby July 26, 2009

Then it suggested a security guard who had actually died two months before the crime had taken place was the man responsible.
Moscow’s Long, Corrupt Money Trail Michael Weiss March 21, 2014

Historical Examples

One can show his sense of the magnitude of his crime even by the manner of defending it.
Homeward Bound James Fenimore Cooper

The gayety of a light-hearted maiden is often unmixed with boldness, or crime.
Philothea Lydia Maria Child

You are about to visit our country to seek revenge for this crime.
The Story of the Greeks H. A. Guerber

He was therefore condemned, and perished on the scaffold for the crime.
Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, No. 327 Various

I have never before been brought in contact with a crime of this magnitude.
Number Seventeen Louis Tracy

an act or omission prohibited and punished by law

unlawful acts in general: a wave of crime
(as modifier): crime wave

an evil act
(informal) something to be regretted: it is a crime that he died young

mid-13c., “sinfulness,” from Old French crimne (12c., Modern French crime), from Latin crimen (genitive criminis) “charge, indictment, accusation; crime, fault, offense,” perhaps from cernere “to decide, to sift” (see crisis). But Klein (citing Brugmann) rejects this and suggests *cri-men, which originally would have been “cry of distress” (Tucker also suggests a root in “cry” words and refers to English plaint, plaintiff, etc.). Meaning “offense punishable by law” is from late 14c. The Latin word is glossed in Old English by facen, also “deceit, fraud, treachery.” Crime wave first attested 1893, American English.

Related Terms

copycat crime


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