In this post we will focus on vocabulary related to crime, which can be pretty cryptic for most learners.
Crime vocabulary can be really useful when reading newspapers, as crime news are very common, for example, in British media (especially on tabloids). It could also be an interesting idea to know a few words from this field when you are asked to write some genres which are likely to appear at a Cambridge exam, such as stories, articles or reports.
- In English, people guilty of a crime or offence are called criminals or offenders.
- In order to know what they have done, the police investigate the facts, they conduct an investigation.
- Thus, criminals may end up in prison and there become prisoners.
- Before this can happen, they must be prosecuted (this must be done by the prosecutor, the person in charge of the prosecution).
- After this, they must be taken to stand trial, where witnesses must help the judge and/or jury to reach a verdict.
- Thus, they can be either sentenced or released, the latter meaning they are free.
Beyond this basic process, we can mention several crimes that have a specific name in English.
- Firstly, we must bear in mind that things are stolen, but people are robbed by robbers or thieves; a robber or thief is the person who commits a theft.
- The person that breaks into a house to steal goods or money commits a burglary and is called a burglar.
- When items are stolen from a shop, this is called shoplifting, and the person who does it is a shoplifter.
- If someone attacks another person with a knife or a similar weapon, this person is stabbing him/her; when the person attacked dies as a result of this action, the attacker has committed a murder and becomes a murderer.
- As a last example we can cite that a person starting a fire in a building in order to destroy it is committing arson, and is called an arsonist.
If you want to keep learning this kind of vocabulary, it might be a good idea to read either newspapers (as it has been suggested above) or crime literature in English (for example, ‘Sleep No More: Six Murderous Tales’ by the English author P.D. James), which will be for sure more entertaining and will help you improve your English in so many ways.