Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

criminal - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

adjective     criminal pronunciation in American English
  1. 1
    [usually before noun] relating to illegal acts

    The book examines the causes of criminal behavior.

    a criminal offense/act:

    It is a criminal offense to threaten someone with violence.

    1. a.
      [only before noun] relating to parts of the legal system that deal with crime

      the criminal justice system

      criminal charges (=official statements saying that someone is accused of committing a crime):

      You could face criminal charges.

      criminal proceedings (=the process of examining a crime in a court of law):

      There is not enough evidence to start criminal proceedings against him.

    2. b.
      [only before noun] used about people who often commit crimes

      the criminal element in society

  2. 2
    bad, wrong, or unfair in a way that makes you angry

    It’s criminal the way they treat their animals.

    That’s a criminal waste of resources.

    Synonyms and related words
    Synonyms and related words

deep learning

a form of machine learning which incorporates the use of neural networks

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

snap election

a general election … that is called earlier than expected

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play