Entries linking to decriminalization
active word-forming element in English and in many verbs inherited from French and Latin, from Latin de "down, down from, from, off; concerning" (see de), also used as a prefix in Latin, usually meaning "down, off, away, from among, down from," but also "down to the bottom, totally" hence "completely" (intensive or completive), which is its sense in many English words.
As a Latin prefix it also had the function of undoing or reversing a verb's action, and hence it came to be used as a pure privative — "not, do the opposite of, undo" — which is its primary function as a living prefix in English, as in defrost (1895), defuse (1943), de-escalate (1964), etc. In some cases, a reduced form of dis-.
c. 1400, "sinful, wicked;" mid-15c., "of or pertaining to a legally punishable offense, of the nature of a crime;" late 15c., "guilty of crime," from Old French criminel, criminal "criminal, despicable, wicked" (11c.) and directly from Late Latin criminalis "pertaining to crime," from Latin crimen (genitive criminis); see crime. It preserves the Latin -n-. Other adjectives include criminous (mid-15c.), criminative. Criminal law (or criminal justice) has been distinguished from civil in English at least since late 15c.
updated on July 11, 2018