[ uh-kyoozd ]
/ əˈkyuzd /
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charged with a crime, wrongdoing, fault, etc.: the accused boy.
Often the accused . a person or persons charged in a court of law with a crime, offense, etc.
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Origin of accused

First recorded in 1585–95; accuse + -ed2


mis·ac·cused, adjectiveself-ac·cused, adjectiveun·ac·cused, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does accused mean?

Accused is an adjective that means charged with a crime or other offense. Accused is also used as a noun to refer to a person or people who have been charged with a crime, often as the accused.

To accuse someone of something means to say that they are guilty of it. This can happen in everyday situations, such as children accusing each other of not sharing. But accused is most used in the context of the criminal justice system to indicate that a person has been officially charged with a crime.

Example: The accused was escorted in the courtroom by police.

Where did accused come from?

The verb accuse has been in use since at least the 1300s. It comes from the Latin accūsāre, meaning “to call to account.” As an adjective and noun, accused is recorded later, around the 1500s.

Because accused is closely linked to crimes and rule violations, it has been used in legal documents, law texts, and accounts of criminal trials or court cases for centuries. It is important to remember that accused, like similar words such as charged and indicted, doesn’t indicate that the person is guilty of the crime they are suspected of committing. An accused person has simply been charged with the crime. In modern times, their guilt usually needs to be proven. Of course, accused persons in previous eras (such as accused witches) had much less hope of a fair trial, and the very accusation of guilt sometimes sealed their fate. Still today, accusing someone of a crime is a serious thing to do. Even if they are not found guilty, having been accused may permanently hurt their reputation.

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What are some other forms related to accused?

  • the accused (noun)
  • accuse (verb)
  • misaccused (adjective)
  • self-accused (adjective)
  • unaccused (adjective)

What are some synonyms for accused?

What are some words that share a root or word element with accused

What are some words that often get used in discussing accused?

How is accused used in real life?

Many court systems operate under the idea that a person is “innocent until proven guilty.” Because of this, many courts, police organizations, and news outlets (who want to avoid libel) will often refer to a defendant in a criminal trial as accused until a verdict has been reached.



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An accused person has been found guilty of a crime and is awaiting punishment.

How to use accused in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for accused

/ (əˈkjuːzd) /

the accused law the defendant or defendants appearing on a criminal charge
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012