AskDefine | Define culprit

Dictionary Definition

culprit n : someone who perpetrates wrongdoing [syn: perpetrator]

User Contributed Dictionary



From culpa, fault via cul prit



  1. The person or thing at fault for a problem or crime.
    I tightened the loose bolt that was the culprit; it should work now.



Related terms

Extensive Definition

A culprit, under English law properly the prisoner at the bar, is one accused of a crime. The term is used, generally, of one guilty of an offence. In origin the word is a combination of two Anglo-French legal words, culpable: guilty, and prit or prest: Old French: ready. On the prisoner at the bar pleading not guilty, the clerk of the crown answered culpable, and states that he was ready (prest) to join issue. The words "cul. prist" were then entered on the roll, showing that issue had been joined. When French law terms were discontinued, the words were taken as forming one word addressed to the prisoner.
The formula "Culprit, how will you be tried?" in answer to a plea of "not guilty," is first found in the trial for murder of the 7th Earl of Pembroke in 1678.
The term "culpret" refers to a female culprit, a female being that has "culped".
Under modern criminal law, the preferred term is defendant.
culprit in Simple English: Culprit
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