culprit

\ \ [17] Culprit appears to be a fossilized survival of the mixture of English and French once used in English courts. The usually accepted account of its origin is that it is a lexicalization of an exchange in court between the accused and the prosecutor. If the prisoner pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charge read out against him, the prosecutor would have countered, in Law French, with ‘Culpable: prit d’averrer …’, literally ‘Guilty: ready to prove’. (English culpable [14] comes ultimately from Latin culpaguilt’, and prit is the Anglo- Norman form of what in modern French has become prêtready’, from Latin praestus – source of English presto). The theory is that this would have been noted down by those recording the proceedings in abbreviated form as cul. prit, which eventually came to be apprehended as a term used for addressing the accused.
\ \ Cf.CULPABLE, PRESTO

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Culprit 1 — Birth name James Hannam Also known as Culprit 1, Culprit One, Culp Born 1980 Origin Newport, Wales Genres …   Wikipedia

  • culprit — index convict, delinquent, embezzler, felon, malefactor Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • Culprit — Cul prit (k[u^]l pr?t), n. [Prob. corrupted for culpate, fr. Law Latin culpatus the accused, p. p. of L. culpare to blame. See {Culpable}.] 1. One accused of, or arraigned for, a crime, as before a judge. [1913 Webster] An author is in the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • culprit — ► NOUN ▪ a person who is responsible for a crime or offence. ORIGIN originally in the judicial formula Culprit, how will you be tried?, perhaps from a misinterpretation of the written abbreviation cul. prist for Old French Culpable: prest d… …   English terms dictionary

  • culprit — (n.) 1670s, from Anglo Fr. cul prit, contraction of Culpable: prest (d averrer nostre bille) guilty, ready (to prove our case), words used by prosecutor in opening a trial. It seems the abbreviation cul. prit was mistaken in English for an… …   Etymology dictionary

  • culprit — *criminal, felon, convict, malefactor, delinquent Analogous words: *prisoner: offender, sinner (see corresponding nouns at OFFENSE): scoundrel, blackguard, miscreant, rogue, rascal (see VILLAIN) …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • culprit — [n] person responsible for wrongdoing con, convict, criminal, delinquent, evildoer, ex con, felon, fugitive, guilty party, jailbird*, malefactor, miscreant, offender, rascal, sinner, transgressor, wrongdoer, yardbird*; concept 412 …   New thesaurus

  • culprit — [kul′prit] n. [< Anglo Fr cul. prit, contr. for phr. culpable, prit (a averer nostre bille), lit., guilty, ready (to prove our case): words used by prosecutor in opening case < culpable (see CULPABLE) + prit, for OFr prest < LL praestus …   English World dictionary

  • culprit — [[t]kʌ̱lprɪt[/t]] culprits 1) N COUNT: usu the N When you are talking about a crime or something wrong that has been done, you can refer to the person who did it as the culprit. All the men were being deported even though the real culprits in the …   English dictionary

  • culprit — noun (C) 1 the person who is guilty of a crime, or responsible for damage, a problem etc: Police finally managed to catch the culprit. 2 informal the reason for a particular problem or difficulty: the main culprit: High production costs are the… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • culprit — UK [ˈkʌlprɪt] / US noun [countable] Word forms culprit : singular culprit plural culprits 1) someone who is responsible for doing something bad or illegal Police have so far failed to find the culprits. 2) the cause of something bad happening The …   English dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.