Printable Version
Pronunciation: kri-mi-nê-jen-ik Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Creating or generating crime, fostering criminal behavior.

Notes: You might think this word is a recent creation, but it has actually been around since the turn of the 20th century. It is simply rarely used. The adverb, used even more rarely, would be criminogenically, and the noun, criminogenicity.

In Play: James B. Jacobs, Professor of Constitutional Law at New York University, thinks that alcohol is the most criminogenic substance in America. Poverty is the most criminogenic condition around the world; about 85% of crime is economic crime.

Word History: Today's Good Word is a compound made up of the Latin root: crimen, criminis "accusation, verdict" + genesis "birth, creation, generation". Etymologists are still guessing the origin of crimen, but we know quite a bit about the origin of genesis. It is based on the PIE gen- "to give birth", which came to English directly from its Proto-Germanic ancestors as kin, kind, and king. It was borrowed from Latin and Greek words that contain it far more often. We find it in gender, gene, genus, genealogy, genius, and genocide. The reduced form of this root, gn, is found in native and natural, since Latin did not tolerate words that began with GN, and regularly omitted the initial G. (We owe double gratitude to Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira, long-time editor of the Good Word series and contributor of today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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