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Alternative forms[edit]


From Anglo-Norman abettour, from Old French abeter + -our (-or). See abet.



abettor (plural abettors)

  1. One that abets an offender; one that incites; instigates; encourages. [First attested from 1350 to 1470.][1]
  2. A supporter or advocate. [Late 16th century.][1]
    • 1838 March – 1839 October, Charles Dickens, chapter 8, in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, London: Chapman and Hall, [], published 1839, →OCLC:
      [] when he recollected that, being there as an assistant, he actually seemed—no matter what unhappy train of circumstances had brought him to that pass—to be the aider and abettor of a system which filled him with honest disgust and indignation, he loathed himself []

Usage notes[edit]

  • Abettor is usually used in a legal sense.
  • abettor, accessory, accomplice. These words denote different degrees of complicity in some deed or crime.
  • An abettor is one who incites or encourages to the act, without sharing in its performance.
  • An accessory supposes a principal offender. One who is neither the chief actor in an offense, nor present at its performance, but accedes to or becomes involved in its guilt, either by some previous or subsequent act, as of instigating, encouraging, aiding, or concealing, etc., is an accessory.
  • An accomplice is one who participates in the commission of an offense, whether as principal or accessory. Thus in treason, there are no abettors or accessories, but all are held to be principals or accomplices.
  • (supporter): Nowadays it usually refers to a reprehensible act that is supported.




  1. 1.0 1.1 Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief; William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors (2002), “abettor”, in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 4.