Definition of crime in US English:



  • 1An action or omission that constitutes an offense that may be prosecuted by the state and is punishable by law.

    ‘shoplifting was a serious crime’
    • ‘The crimes include shoplifting, assault, public order offences, theft and criminal damage.’
    • ‘It doesn't even have to involve physical contact and is a crime punishable summarily by up to six months in prison.’
    • ‘Is there then a disproportionate growth in the crime of theft as opposed to more serious crimes?’
    • ‘Capital punishment for such crimes might make criminals more wary of carrying guns and knives.’
    • ‘Preliminary inquires into rapes, murders and other serious crimes were canceled.’
    • ‘These try all but the most serious crimes, such as murder and rape.’
    • ‘Logic is turned upside down and instead of being punished for their crimes of omission they reap their due reward.’
    • ‘Its perpetrators must be punished because crimes unpunished generate more criminals.’
    • ‘Conspiracies should only be criminal if the conduct agreed upon constitutes a crime when done by one person.’
    • ‘Officers were also becoming increasingly worried that crimes and serious injuries were not being reported.’
    • ‘That does not apply just to terrorist offences but also to other serious crimes.’
    • ‘These people will think twice about rape, murder and other serious crimes if death is an alternative.’
    • ‘One cannot just walk away from the scene of the crime without admitting wrongdoing.’
    • ‘That a woman could be the perpetrator of such crimes even as an accomplice was almost too horrible to believe.’
    • ‘Next the jury has to consider causation and then whether the breach was gross enough to constitute a crime.’
    • ‘Assaults and related offences are treated as serious crimes, which attract substantial penalties.’
    • ‘Her alleged crimes are punishable by up to three years in prison and fines of up to €100,000.’
    • ‘Judge Malherbe ruled that the action of the two soldiers did not constitute a crime.’
    • ‘He said the order had turned the offence of being drunk and disorderly into a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.’
    • ‘A world virtually without murder and serious crimes, wouldn't that be something?’
    offence, unlawful act, illegal act, breach of the law, infraction of the law, violation of the law, misdemeanour, misdeed, wrong, felony, violation, transgression, fault, injury
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Illegal activities.
      ‘the victims of crime’
      • ‘Some submitters also spoke of the need for the Government to do more to assist the victims of crime.’
      • ‘They cannot be expected to be present while every act of crime or vandalism is being perpetrated.’
      • ‘The law and the courts and the political elite are biased in favour of the criminal rather than the victim of crime.’
      • ‘The idea that only a black man can treat black criminals and victims of crime fairly is absurd and offensive.’
      • ‘Sutton Council is in a state of denial with regard to crime and vandalism.’
      • ‘What of course everyone agrees with is that drug dealing and organised crime should be illegal.’
      • ‘How would she suggest that we deal with current issues like vandalism and street crime?’
      • ‘Shoplifting and other business crime will continue to be dealt with other uniformed area officers.’
      • ‘It also identifies the number of days of illegal activity by type of crime.’
      • ‘The designers of the new building are also hoping to minimise the potential for vandalism and other crime.’
      • ‘This can easily rear its head here in drug gangs and petty crime like vandalism without any encouragement.’
      • ‘The arrests should be for offences such as burglary, robbery, car crime or vandalism, he said.’
      • ‘It is important that we work to break the cycle that can trap people in crime, both as victims and perpetrators.’
      • ‘The reductions we've made in house burglary, in car crime and robbery over the last year are excellent.’
      • ‘Crimes such as vandalism, car crime and burglary are an everyday occurrence in Swindon.’
      • ‘People were most worried about house burglary, car crime, drugs, alcohol and robbery.’
      • ‘This is a long, long way from ensuring that the victims of crime are compensated.’
      • ‘And surely you agree that crime and illegal immigration are getting out of hand.’
      • ‘But nor have I ever felt safer as a result of them or believed they were stopping crime or terrorism.’
      • ‘Once again it is the vulnerable who are the victims of crime while far too often the perpetrators escape justice.’
      lawbreaking, delinquency, wrongdoing, transgression, misconduct, criminality, illegality, villainy, felony, corruption
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 An action or activity that, although not illegal, is considered to be evil, shameful, or wrong.
      ‘they condemned apartheid as a crime against humanity’
      ‘it's a crime to keep a creature like Willy in a tank’
      • ‘For anyone to deprive them of a penny of their legal entitlement is a crime against society.’
      • ‘We hold it to be a crime against man and God to submit any longer to the rule that has caused this disaster to our country.’
      • ‘What we need is a multilateral regime that makes it clear that this is a crime against all humanity.’
      • ‘Surely he's not going to make out that this show is anything less than a crime against humanity?’
      • ‘As I said it was a crime against humanity so that is what he deserved and that is what the rest of them deserve.’
      • ‘It was a national disgrace and a crime, and the responsibility for it reaches to the highest level.’
      • ‘Any activity that takes away these rights is a crime against nature and humanity.’
      • ‘To undermine football as happens in certain countries is a deception and a crime against society.’
      • ‘To deprive a Muslim child of their culture and language is a crime against humanity.’
      • ‘If as you report it was due to inability to pay, then this ranks as a crime against humanity.’
      • ‘High treason was a crime against the state which meant, in practice, against the monarch.’
      • ‘Everything reinforces the notion that this is a uniquely devastating and shameful crime.’
      • ‘This is certainly a crime against humanity aimed at earning money at the cost of public health.’
      • ‘The deliberate targeting of civilians is a crime against humanity, full stop.’
      • ‘For the council to accept such a liability is a crime against the tax payers of Swindon.’
      • ‘First, it specifies that a crime against humanity must be committed with knowledge of the attack.’
      • ‘Here was a man who many people were concerned about but who had never been convicted of a crime against children.’
      • ‘This was not just a crime against one nation, but against the very notion of decency itself.’
      • ‘It is a crime against these boxers' humanity that they are allowed to continue in this most dangerous trade.’
      • ‘They have committed a huge crime against humanity, and now they are killing the witnesses.’
      immoral act, sin, evil, evil action, wrong, wrongdoing, atrocity, abomination, enormity, disgrace, outrage, monstrosity, violation, abuse, injustice, affront
      View synonyms


Middle English (in the sense ‘wickedness, sin’): via Old French from Latin crimen ‘judgement, offense’, based on cernere ‘to judge’.