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