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[kuhl-prit] /ˈkʌl prɪt/
a person or other agent guilty of or responsible for an offense or fault.
a person arraigned for an offense.
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 Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for culprit
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • No one in the whole ship was as zealous as the Irishman in searching for the culprit; but he took care never to find him.

    Sustained honor John R. Musick,
  • No culprit was ever required to bear witness against himself!

    Salted With Fire George MacDonald
  • Rather they looked at each other questioningly as the minutes flew, as if the culprit were indeed not among them.

    The Pirate Woman Aylward Edward Dingle
  • No one else had done it, and therefore Louisiana, who had quit the country, must have been the culprit.

    Louisiana Lou William West Winter
  • The first offense, when the culprit is discovered, is not punished; but there is a warning against repetition.

    Ifugao Law R. F. Burton
British Dictionary definitions for culprit


(law) a person awaiting trial, esp one who has pleaded not guilty
the person responsible for a particular offence, misdeed, etc
Word Origin
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
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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
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