a person or other agent guilty of or responsible for an offense or fault.
a person arraigned for an offense.

Origin of culprit

1670–80; traditionally explained as cul (representing Latin culpābilis guilty) + prit (representing Anglo-French prest ready), marking the prosecution as ready to prove the defendant's guilt. See culpable, presto Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for culprit

Contemporary Examples of culprit

Historical Examples of culprit

  • There was a refreshing novelty in this case, where one of themselves was the culprit.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • I passed through the gossiping crowd with bread and water for my culprit.

  • She looked like a culprit whom direst vengeance had overtaken at last.

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

  • No culprit was ever required to bear witness against himself!

    Salted With Fire

    George MacDonald

  • The misunderstanding was an unfortunate affair for the culprit.

    Homeward Bound

    James Fenimore Cooper

British Dictionary definitions for culprit



law a person awaiting trial, esp one who has pleaded not guilty
the person responsible for a particular offence, misdeed, etc

Word Origin for culprit

C17: from Anglo-French cul-, short for culpable guilty + prit ready, indicating that the prosecution was ready to prove the guilt of the one charged
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

Word Origin and History for culprit

1670s, from Anglo-French 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 address to the defendant.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper