From Anglo-Norman cul. prit, contraction of culpable: prest (d'averrer nostre bille) 'guilty: ready (to prove our case)', words used by prosecutor in opening a trial, mistaken in English for an address to the defendant. See culpable.
culprit (plural culprits)
- The person or thing at fault for a problem or crime.
- I have tightened the loose bolt that was the culprit; it should work now.
- 1834, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter XVII, in Francesca Carrara. […], volume III, London: Richard Bentley, […], (successor to Henry Colburn), →OCLC, page 145:
- Another sits beneath the purple canopy—a lady, but alone. The diadem is on her cold and haughty brow; there is no pity in her stern aspect, and the smile on her lip bodes death. Before her stands the lovely culprit, whose fatal beauty, and still more fatal love, are about to be dearly requited.
- 2012 June 9, Owen Phillips, “Euro 2012: Netherlands 0-1 Denmark”, in BBC Sport:
- But the Dutch dominated only to waste numerous efforts, with Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie the main culprits.
- (UK, law) A prisoner accused but not yet tried.
- See also Thesaurus:criminal