or co·con·spir·a·tor

[ koh-kuhn-spir-uh-ter ]
/ ˌkoʊ kənˈspɪr ə tər /
Save This Word!

a fellow conspirator; associate or collaborator in a conspiracy.
Smoothly step over to these common grammar mistakes that trip many people up. Good luck!
Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Origin of co-conspirator

First recorded in 1860–65
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does co-conspirator mean?

A co-conspirator is a fellow conspirator—someone engaged in a secret plan by multiple people to do something evil or illegal.

Such a plan is called a conspiracy. The word conspiracy can also refer to the act of making such plans—the act of conspiring—or to the group making the plans. In a legal context, conspiracy refers to an agreement by two or more people to commit a crime.

In any of these cases, the people involved can be called conspirators. The word co-conspirator refers to a conspirator conspiring with one or more other conspirators in the same conspiracy. By itself, the word conspirator always implies that there are multiple people involved—there is never a single conspirator. Technically, the phrase fellow co-conspirator is redundant, since co-conspirator means the same thing as fellow conspirator.

A conspiracy theory is an explanation of an event that says it was the result of a secret and often complex and evil plot by multiple co-conspirators. People who promote or formulate conspiracy theories often reject the standard or accepted explanation of unexplained or unusual events and claim that they are the doing of evil conspirators secretly conspiring behind the scenes.

Example: This proves that the crime wasn’t the work of one man—it was carried out by several co-conspirators who are now under arrest.

Where does co-conspirator come from?

The first records of the word co-conspirator come from the 1860s—coincidentally right before the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators. The prefix co- indicates partnership (as in words like co-host and copilot). Conspirator ultimately derives from the Latin verb conspīrāre, meaning “to act in harmony” or “to conspire.” This comes from the combination of con-, meaning “together,” and spīrāre, “to breathe.” The suffix -tor indicates an agent of action—in this case, the action of conspiring.

When people hear the word conspirator, they often think of shady people making shady plans in shady backrooms. The word typically implies both secrecy and evil—conspirators are up to no good and they’re trying to hide it. When co-conspirators plan to commit a crime together, it’s a criminal conspiracy. When prosecutors label a person as an “unindicted co-conspirator,” they believe that person conspired with a suspect who has been indicted for conspiracy (among other charges). However, the unindicted co-conspirator is not charged with the crime of conspiracy—perhaps because there is not enough evidence or because they have been granted immunity.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to co-conspirator?

What are some synonyms for co-conspirator?

What are some words that share a root or word element with co-conspirator

What are some words that often get used in discussing co-conspirator?

How is co-conspirator used in real life?

Co-conspirator is always used negatively. By definition, a conspirator always has co-conspirators.



Try using co-conspirator!

Is co-conspirator used correctly in the following sentence?

Several top-ranking officials were named as co-conspirators.

How to use co-conspirator in a sentence