Criminal= Offender?

sambistapt

Senior Member
Brazilian Portuguese
Hello amigos!

I´d like to know if Is there a subtle nuance about the words? I´ve already looked up the dictionary and saw no difference at all, Am I right about that?

Thanks,

Sam:cool:
 
  • Chris1

    Member
    UK
    English
    Hi,

    Like most synonyms there are subtle differences: notwithstanding the fact that they are interchangeable in many contexts. 'Offender' is quite legalistic, (used in legalese such as 'repeat offender' ) whereas 'criminal' is commonplace-would be used by everyone, from the man on the street to a High Court Judge.

    Also one would more often say 'sex offender' than 'sex criminal'

    I suspect that there might be more to it!
    Would be interesting to see what other people think....

    Chris
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    One difference that can exist is that not all offenses (that is, violations of the law) are crimes. Someone who violates a local no-smoking ordiinance in a restaurant, for example, is an offender, but probably not a criminal.
     

    Druhie

    Member
    Russian
    I'm not a native English speaker but I assume that correlation goes as follows:
    criminal => offender, and not vise versa.
    Criminal is someone that commited a crime and hereby offended against the criminal law. Offender is the one who violated a law in general. So they're both law-breakers but criminal's fault is specified.

    Nothing but just my guess, of course. But I think my point of view coincides with that of GreenWhiteBlue :)
     

    Chris1

    Member
    UK
    English
    Also in common usage an offender would be someone who has commited a specific crime- a criminal can often be used to describe someone who is involved in a wide variety of illegal activity.

    I think.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    In my own jurisdiction (which is the State of New York), offenses which are defined as felonies and misdemeanors are by that defnition crimes, but other lesser offenses (usually called petty offenses), while still offenses against the law, are not crimes. Thus, all criminals are offenders (because all crimes are offenses of one kind or another), but not all offenders are criminals (because not all offenses are of sufficient gravity to be considered crimes.)
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    Hello amigos!

    I´d like to know if Is there a subtle nuance about the words? I´ve already looked up the dictionary and saw no difference at all, Am I right about that?

    Thanks,

    Sam:cool:
    While some have mentioned that an offender is not necessarily a lawbreaker, no one has yet pointed out that an offender is anyone who offends, in any manner.

    A Google search, for example, shows that insult comics such as Don Rickles are often described as "equal-opportunity offenders."
     
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