accuse vs charge


Senior Member
I cannot understand the difference between accuse and charge.
To accuse = to say someone is guilty but without any particular evidence.
To charge = officialy say that someone is guilty.
Am I right?
Thanks in advance
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Yes, anyone can accuse someone of something, but the police charge people when they take fingerprints and mugshots and so on.


    Senior Member
    charge---technically made by prosecutors

    accuse---possibly made by any street people or police


    Senior Member
    USA English
    charge---technically made by prosecutors

    accuse---possibly made by any street people or police
    Not quite.

    In AE:

    In general conversation, they are equivalent and particularly in journalism, both are used in order to avoid repetition of the same word.

    See, for example, HERE.

    In a courtroom, however, the legal term is to "charge" a person with a crime. Precisely who can file a criminal "charge" varies a bit between jurisdictions in the U.S.

    Nevertheless, you might hear attorneys refer to the defendant as "the accused."

    As a side note: "Street people" in AE refers to homeless people, i.e. vagrants, and is scarcely appropriate here.


    English - England
    "The boss accused John of theft and called the police. The police arrested John and charged him with theft."

    An accusation comes first, a charge is the formal process of announcing that you think the person was responsible for the crime (and needs to be brought before a court for the case to be heard.)

    cf The President charged John with the task of irrigating the desert. The President charged John = The President has officially given the responsibility to John.

    Antara Manova

    Bulgarian Bulgaria
    In that relation, I'd like to ask for this sentence:
    "Student leaders argue the schools have made false charges against them. Since then each side has levelled charges and counter charges the other."
    For the first charges, isn't it better with accusations against them? Accusation goes with the prepositions against and of or with that.
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