[ in-dahy-tuh-buhl ]
/ ɪnˈdaɪ tə bəl /
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liable to being indicted, as a person.
making a person liable to indictment, as an offense.
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Origin of indictable

First recorded in 1700–10; indict + -able


in·dict·a·bil·i·ty, nounin·dict·a·bly, adverbnon·in·dict·a·ble, adjectiveun·in·dict·a·ble, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does indictable mean?

Indictable is an adjective used to describe a crime for which someone can be or is likely to be indicted—officially charged in a way that makes them subject to a criminal trial.

It’s especially used in the phrase indictable offense, referring to a serious crime.

Indictable can also be used to describe a person who has committed such a crime (or has been suspected of committing it).

Indicting a suspect is the final step in the evidence-gathering process before a person is put on trial for a serious crime, especially a felony. The official announcement of this accusation is called an indictment. In the U.S., such indictments are presented by a grand jury—the group of people responsible for determining whether there is enough evidence of a crime for a suspect to be put on trial.

Indict can also be used in a more general way, outside of a legal context, to mean to accuse or strongly criticize, or to reveal something as being deserving of criticism.

The term unindictable is especially used in this sense to describe someone or their behavior as unable to be criticized due to being completely free of wrongdoing.

Example: If this turns out to be true, it’s an indictable offense, and I expect the case to go to trial.

Where does indictable come from?

The first records of the word indictable come from around 1700. Its base word, indict, ultimately comes from the Latin indīctus, a form of the verb indīcere, meaning “to announce” or “to proclaim.”

To indict is to formally announce a criminal accusation against someone. An indictment is issued only after a prosecutor and a grand jury have determined that police investigators have gathered enough evidence to charge someone with a crime. In the U.S. and the U.K., the law requires an indictment in order to charge someone with a serious crime or felony. This process is intended to ensure that a case only goes to trial if there is sufficient evidence. For this reason, the word indictable is typically used before an indictment has been made or in general discussion of what kind of offenses can be considered crimes.

Outside of the courtroom, indict is often used in the context of strong criticism of serious wrongdoing. When someone’s actions are described as unindictable, it means there’s no way to criticize them because no wrong has been done.

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What are some other forms related to indictable?

  • indictability (noun)
  • indictably (adverb)
  • nonindictable (adjective)
  • unindictable (adjective)
  • indict (verb)

What are some synonyms for indictable?

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

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

How is indictable used in real life?

Indictable is usually used in the context of serious crimes or wrongdoing.



Try using indictable!

Is indictable used correctly in the following sentence?

It’s up to the grand jury to decide if the suspect is indictable—not the media.

How to use indictable in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for indictable

/ (ɪnˈdaɪtəbəl) /

adjective criminal law
(of a person) liable to be indicted
(of a crime) that makes a person liable to be indicted

Derived forms of indictable

indictably, adverb
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