felon

1
[ fel-uh n ]
/ ˈfɛl ən /

noun

Law. a person who has committed a felony.
Archaic. a wicked person.

adjective

Archaic. wicked; malicious; treacherous.

Nearby words

  1. fellowman,
  2. fellowship,
  3. felly,
  4. felo de se,
  5. felo-de-se,
  6. felonious,
  7. feloniously,
  8. felonry,
  9. felony,
  10. felony murder

Origin of felon

1
1250–1300; Middle English fel(o)un “wicked, wicked person, evildoer,” from Old French fel (nominative), felun (oblique) “wicked person, traitor,” from Medieval Latin fellon-, stem of fello “villain, evildoer”; ultimate etymology uncertain

Usage note

Once a person is no longer engaged in crime we can say "He's a former criminal." And once a person is no longer incarcerated, we can say "She's an ex-convict." Though both statements carry a stigma, they leave open the possibility that the people in question have changed their behavior. But this does not seem to be the case with the term felon , which appears to have no time limit. Once a person has been convicted of a felony, he or she can be considered a felon for life, according to the strict meaning of the word. (The term ex-felon , for example, is rarely used.) Advocates for the reform of our criminal justice system point out that this usage makes it even harder for rehabilitated former criminals to reintegrate into society and thereby turn away from a life of crime.

felon

2
[ fel-uh n ]
/ ˈfɛl ən /

noun

an acute and painful inflammation of the deeper tissues of a finger or toe, usually near the nail: a form of whitlow.

Origin of felon

2
1375–1425; late Middle English felo(u)n < Medieval Latin fellōn- (stem of fellō) scrofulous tumor, of uncertain origin

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for felon


British Dictionary definitions for felon

felon

1
/ (ˈfɛlən) /

noun

criminal law (formerly) a person who has committed a felony
obsolete a wicked person

adjective

archaic, or poetic evil; cruel

Word Origin for felon

C13: from Old French: villain, from Medieval Latin fellō, of uncertain origin

noun

a purulent inflammation of the end joint of a finger, sometimes affecting the bone

Word Origin for felon

C12: from Medieval Latin fellō sore, perhaps from Latin fel poison

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 felon

felon

n.

late 13c., from Old French felon "evil-doer, scoundrel, traitor, rebel, the Devil" (9c.), from Medieval Latin fellonem (nominative fello) "evil-doer," of uncertain origin, perhaps from Frankish *fillo, *filljo "person who whips or beats, scourger" (cf. Old High German fillen "to whip"); or from Latin fel "gall, poison," on the notion of "one full of bitterness."

Another theory (advanced by Professor R. Atkinson of Dublin) traces it to Latin fellare "to suck" (see fecund), which had an obscene secondary meaning in classical Latin (well-known to readers of Martial and Catullus), which would make a felon etymologically a "cock-sucker." OED inclines toward the "gall" explanation, but finds Atkinson's "most plausible" of the others.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for felon

felon

[ fĕlən ]

n.

A purulent infection or abscess involving the bulbous distal end of a finger.whitlow

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.