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Crime in the field of sociology is the breach of a rule or law for which some governing authority or force may ultimately prescribe a punishment. The word crime originates from the Latin crimen (genitive criminis), from the Latin root cernō and Greek κρινω = "I judge". Originally it meant "charge (in law), guilt, accusation".


  • There's not a crime
    But takes its proper change out still in crime
    If once rung on the counter of this world.
  • Society already understands that the criminal is not he who washes our dirty linen in public, but he who dirties the linen.
    • Vladimir Bukovsky (b.1932), Russian author. Stated on 5 January, 1972. Quoted in Radio Times magazine, 19 September, 1977.
  • Nor all that heralds rake from coffin'd clay,
    Nor florid prose, nor honied lies of rhyme,
    Can blazon evil deeds, or consecrate a crime.
  • La pauvreté met le crime au rabais.
    • Poverty puts crime at a discount.
    • Nicolas Chamfort, Maximes et Pensées (published 1795); CCCXII.
    • Alternately translated as: "Poverty sets a reduced price on crime"; in The Viking Book of Aphorisms (1962).
  • There are few better measures of the concern a society has for its individual members and its own well being than the way it handles criminals.
    • Ramsey Clark keynote address, American Correctional Association conference, Miami Beach, Florida (August 20–25, 1967); reported in Proceedings of the Ninety-Seventh Annual Congress of Correction of the American Correctional Association (1968), p. 4; republished in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).
  • If the church ... does not make God's liberation of the oppressed central in its mission and proclamation, how can it rest easy with a condemned criminal as the dominant symbol of its message?
    • James H. Cone, Speaking the Truth: Ecumenism, Liberation, and Black Theology (1986), p. 6.
  • The real significance of crime is in its being a breach of faith with the community of mankind.
  • But many a crime deemed innocent on earth
    Is registered in Heaven; and these no doubt
    Have each their record, with a curse annex'd.
  • The most difficult crime to track is the one which is purposeless.
    • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), British crime novelist. Sherlock Holmes, in "The Naval Treaty," The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1892).
  • It is written ' Thou shalt not kill,' so because he has killed, are we to kill him? No, that's impossible.
  • Commit a crime, and the earth is made of glass.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, philosopher, poet. "Compensation," Essays, First Series (1841).
  • Crime is naught but misdirected energy. So long as every institution of today, economic, political, social, and moral, conspires to misdirect human energy into wrong channels; so long as most people are out of place doing the things they hate to do, living a life they loathe to live, crime will be inevitable, and all the laws on the statutes can only in crease, but never do away with, crime.
    • Emma Goldman, "Anarchism, What it Really Stands For", Anarchism and Other Essays (1917).
  • Never think that war, no matter how necessary, no matter how justified, is not a crime.
    • Ernest Hemingway, Introduction to "Treasury for the Free World" by Ben Raeburn, 1946.
  • My servant ... was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
  • —the unpunished crime is never regretted. We weep over the consequence, not over the fault.
  • Any time you think of a decent crime, there are fifty ways to fuck it up. If you can think of twenty-five, you're a genius.
  • The study of crime begins with the knowledge of oneself. All that you despise, all that you loathe, all that you reject, all that you condemn and seek to convert by punishment springs from you.
    • Henry Miller (1891-1980), U.S. playwright. 'The Soul of Anaesthesia,' The Air-Conditioned Nightmare (1945).
  • The prisoner is not the one who has committed a crime, but the one who clings to his crime and lives it over and over.
    • Henry Miller (1891-1980), U.S. playwright. Sexus, chapter 14 (1949).
  • People seem good while they are oppressed, but they only wish to become oppressors in their turn: life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim.
  • Foul deeds will rise,
    Though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes.
  • If little faults, proceeding on distemper,
    Shall not be wink'd at, how shall we stretch our eye
    When capital crimes, chew'd, swallow'd, and digested,
    Appear before us?
  • Between the acting of a dreadful thing
    And the first motion, all the interim is
    Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream.
  • Beyond the infinite and boundless reach
    Of mercy, if thou didst this deed of death,
    Art thou damn'd, Hubert.
  • Tremble, thou wretch,
    That has within thee undivulged crimes,
    Unwhipp'd of justice.
  • From a single crime know the nation.
    • Virgil [Publius Vergilius Maro] (70-19 B.C.), Roman poet. Aeneid, Book. 2, line 65.
  • Crime and bad lives are the measure of a State's failure, all crime in the end is the crime of the community.
    • H. G. Wells, A Modern Utopia (1905), Chapter 5; reprinted in The Works of H.G. Wells, Volume 9 (1925).
  • The sole means of ridding man of crime is to rid him of freedom.


  • If England treats her criminals the way she has treated me, she doesn't deserve to have any.
  • We don't seem able to check crime, so why not legalize it and then tax it out of business?
    • Will Rogers, reported in reported in Evan Esar, 20,000 quips & quotes (Barnes & Noble Publishing, April 1995), p. 193. ISBN 1566195292.
  • The doctrine that the cure for the evils of democracy is more democracy is like saying that the cure of crime is more crime.
  • Whatever opens opportunity and hope will help to prevent crime and foster responsibility.
    • Lyndon B. Johnson, reported in Ashton Applewhite, Tripp Evans, and Andrew Frothingham, And I Quote: The Definitive Collection of Quotes, Sayings, and Jokes for the Contemporary Speechmaker (St. Martin's Press, 2003), p. 27. ISBN 0312307446.
  • Hungry men have no respect for law, authority or human life.
    • Marcus Garvey, reported in Ashton Applewhite, Tripp Evans, and Andrew Frothingham, And I Quote: The Definitive Collection of Quotes, Sayings, and Jokes for the Contemporary Speechmaker (St. Martin's Press, 2003), p. 84. ISBN 0312307446.
  • Anyone who takes it on himself, on his own authority, to break a bad law, thereby authorizes everyone else to break the good ones.
    • Denis Diderot, reported in Ashton Applewhite, Tripp Evans, and Andrew Frothingham, And I Quote: The Definitive Collection of Quotes, Sayings, and Jokes for the Contemporary Speechmaker (St. Martin's Press, 2003), p. 84. ISBN 0312307446.
  • One man's justice is another's injustice; One man's beauty another's ugliness; One man's wisdom another's folly.
  • Justice is truth in action.
  • The chief problem in any community cursed with crime is not the punishment of the criminal, but the preventing of the young from being trained to crime.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 148-49.
  • Non nella pena,
    Nel delitto è la infamia.
    • Disgrace does not consist in the punishment, but in the crime.
    • Vittorio Alfieri, Antigone, I. 3.
  • Il reo
    D'un delitto è chi'l pensa: a chi l' ordisce
    La pena spetta.
    • The guilty is he who meditates a crime; the punishment is his who lays the plot.
    • Vittorio Alfieri, Antigone, II. 2.
  • Oh! ben provvide il cielo,
    Ch' uom per delitto mai lieto non sia.
    • Heaven takes care that no man secures happiness by crime.
    • Vittorio Alfieri, Oreste, I. 2.
  • A man who has no excuse for crime, is indeed defenceless!
  • Le crime fait la honte et non pas l'échafaud.
    • The crime and not the scaffold makes the shame.
    • Pierre Corneille, Essex, IV. 3. Quoted by Charlotte Corday in a letter to her father after the murder of Marat.
  • C'est plus qu'un crime, c'est une faute.
    • It is worse than a crime, it is a blunder.
    • Joseph Fouché, As quoted by himself in his Memoires, original Ed., 1824. Referring to the murder of the Due Enghien. Fouché's sons deny that it originated with their father. Quoted by others as "C'est pis qu'un crime," and "C'estoit pire qu'un crime." (See Notes and Queries, Aug. 14, 1915, p. 123. Aug. 28, p. 166).
  • Crime is not punished as an offense against God, but as prejudicial to society.
  • Every crime destroys more Edens than our own.
  • Deprendi miserum est.
    • It is grievous to be caught.
    • Horace, Satires, Book I. 2. 134.
  • A crafty knave needs no broker.
    • Ben Jonson, quoted in Every Man in his Humour; also in Taylor's London to Hamburgh.
  • 'Tis no sin love's fruits to steal;
    But the sweet thefts to reveal;
    To be taken, to be seen,
    These have crimes accounted been.
  • Se judice, nemo nocens absolvitur.
    • By his own verdict no guilty man was ever acquitted.
    • Juvenal, Satires, XIII. 2.
  • Multi committunt eadem diverso crimina fato;
    Ille crucem scleris pretium tulit, hic diadema.
    • Many commit the same crimes with a very different result. One bears a cross for his crime; another a crown.
    • Juvenal, Satires, XIII. 103.
  • Nam scelus intra se tacitum qui cogitat ullum,
    Facti crimen habet.
    • For whoever meditates a crime is guilty of the deed.
    • Juvenal, Satires, XIII. 209.
  • Non faciat malum, ut inde veniat bonum.
    • You are not to do evil that good may come of it.
    • Law Maxim.
  • Solent occupationis spe vel impune quædam scelesta committi.
    • Wicked deeds are generally done, even with impunity, for the mere desire of occupation.
    • Ammianus Marcellinus, Annales, XXX. 9.
  • Pœna potest demi, culpa perennis erit.
    • The punishment can be remitted; the crime is everlasting.
    • Ovid, Epistolæ Ex Ponto, I. 1. 64.
  • Factis ignoscite nostris
    Si scelus ingenio scitis abesse meo.
    • Overlook our deeds, since you know that crime was absent from our inclination.
    • Ovid, Fausti, Book III. 309.
  • Ars fit ubi a teneris crimen condiscitur annis.
    • Where crime is taught from early years, it becomes a part of nature.
    • Ovid, Heroides, IV. 25.
  • Le crime d'une mère est un pesant fardeau.
    • The crime of a mother is a heavy burden.
    • Jean Racine, Phèdre, III. 3.
  • With his hand upon the throttle-valve of crime.
  • Prosperum ac felix scelus
    Virtus vocatur; sontibus parent boni;
    Jus est in armis, opprimit leges timor.
    • Successful crime is dignified with the name of virtue; the good become the slaves of the impious; might makes right; fear silences the power of the law.
    • Seneca the Younger, Hercules Furens, CCLI.
  • Nullum caruit exemplo nefas.
  • Scelere velandum est scelus.
  • Cui prodest scelus,
    Is fecit.
  • Ad auctores redit
    Sceleris coacti culpa.
    • The guilt of enforced crimes lies on those who impose them.
    • Seneca the Younger, Troades, DCCCLXX.
  • Qui non vetat peccare, cum possit, jubet.
    • He who does not prevent a crime when he can, encourages it.
    • Seneca the Younger, Troades, CCXCI.
  • Dumque punitur scelus,
  • Amici vitium ni feras, facis tuum.
    • If you share the crime of your friend, you make it your own.
    • Syrus, Maxims.
  • Du repos dans le crime! ah! qui peut s'en flatter.
    • To be at peace in crime! ah, who can thus flatter himself.
    • Voltaire, Oreste, I. 5.
  • La crainte suit le crime, et c'est son châtiment.
    • Fear follows crime and is its punishment.
    • Voltaire, Semiramis, V. 1.
  • Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
    By each let this be heard,
    Some do it with a bitter look,
    Some with a flattering word,
    The coward does it with a kiss,
    The brave man with a sword.

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