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[uh-kom-plis] /əˈkɒm plɪs/
a person who knowingly helps another in a crime or wrongdoing, often as a subordinate.
late Middle English
1475-85; a(c) of unclear orig. + late Middle English complice < Middle French < Medieval Latin complici- (stem of complex) partner; see complex
Can be confused
accomplice, accomplish. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for accomplices
  • Public corruption is a breach of trust by federal, state, or local officials-often with the help of private sector accomplices.
  • Faculty and staff members see themselves not as accomplices but gatekeepers.
  • All three were accomplices to a crime, and they would have been keenly aware of that.
  • He tends to commit his crimes in public, cloaking them in patriotism and in effect turning his witnesses into accomplices.
  • More to the point, he and the prosecution agreed that he had no serious accomplices.
  • Their accomplices should be given life sentences and hefty fines.
  • Witnesses to securities fraud have had little incentive to tattle on their errant co-workers-or accomplices, as the case may be.
  • Western journalists also served as unlikely accomplices in fomenting cold-war terror.
  • And their dimwitted accomplices in the tea-party movement are not much better.
  • The mullahs must show that this barbaric behavior is not tolerated--or admit to being accomplices.
British Dictionary definitions for accomplices


/əˈkɒmplɪs; əˈkʌm-/
a person who helps another in committing a crime
Word Origin
C15: from a complice, interpreted as one word. See complice
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
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Word Origin and History for accomplices



1580s (earlier complice, late 15c.), from Old French complice "a confederate," from Late Latin complicem (nominative complex) "partner, confederate," from Latin complicare "fold together" (see complicate). With parasitic a- on model of accomplish, etc., or perhaps by assimilation of indefinite article in phrase a complice.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for accomplices


in law, a person who becomes equally guilty in the crime of another by knowingly and voluntarily aiding the other to commit the offense. An accomplice is either an accessory or an abettor. The accessory aids a criminal prior to his crime, whereas the abettor aids him during the act itself.

Learn more about accomplice with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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