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criminal

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adjective criminal pronunciation in British English /ˈkrɪmɪn(ə)l/
  1. 1
    [usually before noun] relating to illegal acts

    The book examines the causes of criminal behaviour.

    a criminal offence/act:

    It is a criminal offence 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

      Police are conducting a criminal investigation into his business affairs.

      criminal charges (=official statements saying that someone is accused by the police 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

      the criminal underworld (=people who regularly commit crimes):

      links between politicians and the criminal underworld

  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.

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