[ in-dahyt-muhnt ]
/ ɪnˈdaɪt mənt /
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an act of indicting.
Law. a formal accusation initiating a criminal case, presented by a grand jury and usually required for felonies and other serious crimes.
any charge, accusation, serious criticism, or cause for blame.
the state of being indicted.
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Origin of indictment

First recorded in 1275–1325; indict + -ment; replacing Middle English enditement, from Anglo-French (see indite)


non·in·dict·ment, nounre·in·dict·ment, nounsu·per·in·dict·ment, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does indictment mean?

An indictment is an official accusation stating that a person is being charged with a crime and that a criminal trial will be held.

An indictment is the final step in the evidence-gathering process before a person is put on trial for a serious crime, especially a felony. 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.

Indictment can also be used in a more general way, outside of a legal context, to mean an accusation, strong criticism, or something that has the effect of revealing something as being deserving of criticism.

Indictment is a noun form of the verb indict, which can be used in the sense of making formal criminal charges or in the more general sense of accusing or criticizing.

Example: According to the indictment, the suspect is being charged with armed robbery.

Where does indictment come from?

The first records of the word indictment come from around 1300. Its base word, indict, comes from the Latin indīctus, a form of the verb indīcere, meaning “to announce” or “to proclaim.”

An indictment is a formal announcement officially accusing someone of a crime. 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.

Outside of the courtroom, indictment is often used in the context of strong criticism of serious wrongdoing, especially when it’s delivered in a formal way, as in Today’s opinion piece is a serious indictment of the administration. In this sense, an indictment isn’t always a statement—someone’s bad behavior could be an indictment of their character.

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What are some other forms related to indictment?

  • nonindictment (noun)
  • reindictment (noun)
  • superindictment (noun)
  • indict (verb)

What are some synonyms for indictment?

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

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

How is indictment used in real life?

Indictments usually involve serious crimes or wrongdoing. High-profile criminal indictments often make the news.



Try using indictment!

True or False?

An indictment is presented at the end of a criminal trial.

How to use indictment in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for indictment

/ (ɪnˈdaɪtmənt) /

noun criminal law
a formal written charge of crime formerly referred to and presented on oath by a grand jury
any formal accusation of crime
Scot a charge of crime brought at the instance of the Lord Advocate
the act of indicting or the state of being indicted
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

Cultural definitions for indictment

[ (in-deyet-muhnt) ]

A formal accusation of a crime, presented to the accused party after the charges have been considered by a grand jury.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.