Definition of complicity in US English:



  • The state of being involved with others in an illegal activity or wrongdoing.

    ‘they were accused of complicity in the attempt to overthrow the government’
    • ‘Given many of their staff's political sympathies one might almost suspect complicity.’
    • ‘This is a statement, not only of intellectual dishonesty, but also of direct political complicity.’
    • ‘Therefore, obedience to obviously sinful commands is complicity and conspiracy.’
    • ‘Poverty and lack of judicial responsibility entice officials into complicity.’
    • ‘He has been asked to explain his company's alleged complicity in the contraband cigarette trade.’
    • ‘The concept of aiding and abetting and complicity is well known I think to Australian law.’
    • ‘It involves an understanding of our complicity in the system without judgement or guilt.’
    • ‘The German Supreme Court found that the five members of the Court Martial were guilty of complicity in a crime against humanity.’
    • ‘Those three defendants are to face charges of kidnapping and complicity.’
    • ‘There is no evidence of complicity between the employee and the columnists in obtaining the copies.’
    • ‘Corporate complicity, the tribunal's jury of conscience learned, was extensive.’
    • ‘On the minimalist view, he was guilty of importing as an accessory or in complicity with the informant.’
    • ‘His depiction of criminal complicity as an everyday affair is brave, if a bit problematic.’
    • ‘Its charter in some way negates the legality of such complicity.’
    • ‘In both cases, failures would not justify an investigation into malfeasance or complicity.’
    • ‘The truth is, it is hard to face the fact of murder or complicity in murder without a hard and cold heart.’
    • ‘To get multiple persons at the wrong end of the charge, one has to go to complicity, aiding and abetting, concert.’
    • ‘Accused of complicity in the coup attempt of July 1917, he even had to go into hiding in Finland.’
    • ‘I have privileged information about crime and complicity - but is it to be buried with me?’
    • ‘The media's complicity in war crimes continues unabated, of course.’
    collusion, involvement, collaboration, connivance, abetment
    View synonyms


Mid 17th century: from Middle English complice ‘an associate’, from Old French, from late Latin complex, complic- ‘allied’, from Latin complicare ‘fold together’ (see complicate). Compare with accomplice.