[ kuhl-prit ]
/ ˈkʌl prɪt /


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

Nearby words

  1. culpa,
  2. culpability,
  3. culpable,
  4. culpable homicide,
  5. culpeper,
  6. cult,
  7. cult of personality,
  8. cultch,
  9. cultellus,
  10. cultic

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

British Dictionary definitions for culprit


/ (ˈkʌlprɪt) /


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