Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. One charged with an offense or crime.
  • n. One guilty of a fault or crime.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The person or thing at fault for a problem or crime.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One accused of, or arraigned for, a crime, as before a judge.
  • n. One guilty of a fault; a criminal.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A person arraigned for a crime or offense.
  • n. A criminal; a malefactor; an offender.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. someone who perpetrates wrongdoing

Etymologies

Probably from cul. prit, abbreviation for Anglo-Norman *culpable: prit d'averrer nostre bille, guilty: (I am) ready to aver our indictment : culpable, guilty (from Latin culpābilis; see culpable) + *prit, ready (variant of prest, from Latin praestō; see presto).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin culpa, fault via French cul prit (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Arts market, some writing, failed submissions to an open exhibition, our joint 100th birthday, family stuff, loads of photography (like this crescent moon - click on it for full size to see the craters) and a UK premier of a film to organise plus two other screenings for the science festival but the main culprit is the return to full time day job for pension reasons!

    Hello again!

  • The main culprit is the famous Crow's Nest Pass. rate agreement which has kept grain freight rates at the same level since 1897.

    Transportation in the Eighties

  • In all of these cases, whether the culprit is the energy industry, agribusiness, or climate change, the work of environmental advocates is calling attention to and pushing to resolve the problem.

    The Media Consortium: Weekly Mulch: When Will Our Water Be Clean?

  • I am guessing that the culprit is the Internet (and cable).

    Matthew Yglesias » The George Will Scandal and the Decline of Great American Newspapers

  • Rather: It has been more than a year and half now since the string of deadly anthrax attacks in this country, and still no arrests, even though investigators believe they know who the culprit is and where he is.

    The Wrong Man

  • Crusades, war against Russia, Serbia and others are the effect, the culprit is the ideology of globalization which has adopted the worst of communism, NS and capitalism. hardtruth

    Tell Obama: Dump Gates « Antiwar.com Blog

  • When 1100/11-87s and 870s won't feed a round from the magazine tube, the culprit is almost always a magazine plug that has been installed upside down (the small end should point down toward the trigger).

    Remington Reps Stay on their Toes

  • I hear a noise, and it takes me a while to register whether the culprit is the doorbell, the alarm clock, or one of the four mobile phones The Boy and I have lying around the room.

    reprieve

  • Another culprit is the general anti-intellectualism we see today.

    Archive 2008-07-01

  • If adjustments outside of these working ranges improve throttle response, the culprit is the pilot jet.

    Issue 9 Tips and Tricks

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