Definition of culprit in US English:

culprit

noun

  • 1A person who is responsible for a crime or other misdeed.

    • ‘A shot was discharged and the culprit fled the scene.’
    • ‘The culprits behaved like seasoned thugs but claimed that they were guardians of law and order.’
    • ‘In eight percent of the cases, the culprits plundered the victim's bank accounts.’
    • ‘He said staff members were the main culprits in the theft of medicines from the public health centres.’
    • ‘They caught the real culprit so here I am.’
    • ‘We have a cop who falls in love with a possible culprit in a murder mystery.’
    • ‘Despite numerous red herrings, there's no way to logically deduce the culprit's identity.’
    • ‘But it is not enough to identify likely culprits.’
    • ‘The car is returned and the real culprits are identified.’
    • ‘I have never heard any of the culprits being charged with any ‘crime’ whatsoever.’
    • ‘Police say they are doing all they can to bring the culprits to justice.’
    • ‘The invaders are the real culprits in all cases.’
    • ‘He alerted a police patrol at the top of the road and officers quickly arrived, by which time the culprits had fled.’
    • ‘A swift and thorough investigation must be launched to bring the culprits to justice.’
    • ‘I don't recall the culprit ever been caught.’
    • ‘Apparently, as a manager, it was his responsibility to chase down the offending culprit and resolve the situation.’
    • ‘The culprits fled the scene by car, abandoning the stolen tractor at the scene.’
    • ‘It is only with the help of local people that police can crack down on the crime spree, catch the culprits and bring them to justice.’
    • ‘Police and all concerned parties are working together to bring the culprit or culprits to justice.’
    • ‘Frowning, I glanced around the room trying to find the culprit responsible for interrupting my reading.’
    guilty party, offender, wrongdoer, person responsible
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The cause of a problem or defect.
      ‘viruses could turn out to be the culprit’
      • ‘If the culprit is depleted uranium they are probably out of luck because any clean up would take a very long time and cost a lot of money.’
      • ‘The real culprit is the private sector, far too dependent on low wages in the place of investment.’
      • ‘In this case the alleged villain is the drug companies but the real culprit is government.’
      • ‘To identify the suspected viral culprits in both these cases, they needed a lot more infected leaves.’
      • ‘The person you see in that little mirror is the real culprit in the current crisis.’
      • ‘The doctors whispered that it was second-hand smoking, the worst culprit.’
      • ‘What this book shows quite clearly is that the real culprit is the lack of political will.’
      • ‘Cooking odours are one of the main culprits that cause unpleasant household odours.’
      • ‘The real culprit is the unchecked fragmentation of land holdings in the rural areas.’
      • ‘Digital photography and fewer people taking holidays appear to be the main culprits there.’
      • ‘Nobody seems to know the cause of the deaths but the water seems a likely culprit.’
      • ‘The main culprits for all that racket are the muscles of the palate and the uvula.’
      • ‘The general public and scientists alike viewed electric power plants as the chief culprits.’
      • ‘The real culprit is poverty, disease and starvation.’
      • ‘The real culprit, though, is the system of relegating three teams from Division One each season.’
      • ‘But she said supermarkets were the real culprits for selling alcohol to under-age drinkers.’
      • ‘A sinister, manipulative government and major corporate industries are exposed as the primary culprits.’

Origin

Late 17th century (originally in the formula Culprit, how will you be tried?, said by the Clerk of the Crown to a prisoner pleading not guilty): perhaps from a misinterpretation of the written abbreviation cul. prist for Anglo-Norman French Culpable: prest d'averrer notre bille ‘(You are) guilty: (We are) ready to prove our indictment’; in later use influenced by Latin culpa ‘fault, blame’.

Pronunciation