Idioms about crime


A group of words which has a meaning not deducible from those of the original words.

A look at idioms about crime

Our legal English trainers have chosen some of the biggest and best idioms relating to crime and criminal justice in the English language. You’ll also find definitions of each idiom and at least one example of how to use it.

I could murder

You really want to eat or drink something and would do anything for this.

“I could murder a strawberry ice-cream right now.”

Doing time

To indicate that somebody is currently in prison.

“Susan is doing time for shoplifting.”

Inside job

A crime (usually a theft) was committed and somebody inside the company helped the thieves.

“The police believe that the bank robbery was an inside job.”

Put behind bars

A criminal has been put into prison.

“He was put behind bars last year for 12 years.”

Blow the whistle

To tell the authorities that a crime has been committed.

“He blew the whistle on mass corruption in government and has been in hiding ever since.”

Go straight

Somebody has left prison and now intends to never commit a crime again.

“After I leave this place, I’m going straight. I don’t want to come back here.”

In hot water

To get into extreme difficulty.

“He’s in hot water with the police as they suspect him of a spate of crimes.”

Do a runner

To escape.

“The suspect did a runner from the police van.”

Carry the can

To take responsibility.

“She will be carrying the can for the case’s collapse in court.”

Cook the books

To cheat on your accounts.

“The company’s accountant was arrested for cooking the books.”

Caught red-handed

To be caught in the middle of committing a crime.

“The gang was caught red-handed in the bank vault.”

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