English crime idioms with meanings

Hello everyone, this post is all about crime idioms.

Here you’ll find a lot of crime idioms with meanings and sentences.

It’s always great to use idioms in the language as idioms add color to the language and make them more interesting. 

You might be wondering why to use idioms when we have simple words.

Let me tell you.

Idioms are like secret codes of language that add flavor and spice to what you’re saying.

They’re like little shortcuts that help you express ideas in a fun and colorful way without having to explain everything in detail.

So instead of saying something straightforward like “I’m really tired,” you might say “I’m feeling like a zombie today.”

See, it paints a vivid picture without needing a whole paragraph!

Plus, using idioms can make you sound more natural and fluent in English. It’s like adding a sprinkle of personality to your conversation!

So, let’s get started and take a deep dive into the world of crime idioms

Caught red-handed:

Meaning: To be caught in the act of committing a crime or doing something wrong.

Example: The police walked in just as he was trying to open the safe. He was caught red-handed.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing:

Meaning: Someone who appears harmless or friendly but is actually dangerous or deceitful.

Example: Be cautious of him; he may seem friendly, but he could be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

To go down in flames:

Meaning: To fail disastrously or to face a significant downfall.

Example: His elaborate plan to rob the bank went down in flames when the alarms went off unexpectedly.

Cook the books:

Meaning: To manipulate financial records or accounts dishonestly, typically for embezzlement or fraud.

Example: The company’s CEO was arrested for trying to cook the books to hide the embezzlement.

In cold blood:

Meaning: To do something without emotion or empathy, often referring to a premeditated crime.

Example: The murder was committed in cold blood; there was no sign of passion or regret.

Behind bars:

Meaning: To be in prison or jail.

Example: After years of committing various crimes, he finally ended up behind bars.

To have a skeleton in the closet:

Meaning: To have a hidden secret or shameful past that could be damaging if revealed.

Example: Everyone was surprised to learn that the respected politician had a skeleton in the closet involving financial corruption.

To take the fall:

Meaning: To accept the blame or punishment for a crime, often on behalf of others.

Example: He decided to take the fall for his accomplices to protect his family from retribution.

To be in the hot seat:

Meaning: To be in a difficult or uncomfortable situation, often facing interrogation or scrutiny.

Example: The suspect was in the hot seat as the detective questioned him about his whereabouts on the night of the crime.

To have a rap sheet:

Meaning: To have a criminal record with a documented history of arrests and convictions.

Example: The new employee was denied a security clearance due to his extensive rap sheet.

To leave no stone unturned:

Meaning: To search thoroughly and exhaustively, often used in investigations to imply a commitment to finding every detail.

Example: The detective promised to leave no stone unturned in the search for the missing person.


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To be in the clear:

Meaning: To be free from suspicion or guilt; to be not in trouble.

Example: After the thorough investigation, she was declared in the clear and was released from custody.

To have a finger in every pie:

Meaning: To be involved in many different activities or affairs, sometimes implying illegal or unethical involvement.

Example: The wealthy businessman was suspected of having a finger in every pie, from smuggling to money laundering.

To throw someone under the bus:

Meaning: To betray or sacrifice someone for personal gain or to avoid blame.

Example: In a desperate attempt to save himself, he decided to throw his partner under the bus during the trial.

To be on thin ice:

Meaning: To be in a precarious or risky situation, often one wrong move away from trouble.

Example: After the warning from the boss, the employee knew he was on thin ice and had to improve his performance.

To cover one’s tracks:

Meaning: To hide or conceal evidence of one’s actions, especially in a criminal context.

Example: The experienced criminal knew how to cover his tracks, making it difficult for the police to trace his movements.

To get away with murder:

Meaning: To avoid punishment for a serious wrongdoing or crime.

Example: It’s unbelievable how he managed to get away with murder, given the overwhelming evidence against him.

To be as thick as thieves:

Meaning: To be very close friends who share everything, often used to describe a strong and secretive alliance.

Example: The two criminals were as thick as thieves, planning and executing their schemes together.

To have a price on one’s head:

Meaning: To be wanted by someone, often for a crime, with a reward offered for capture.

Example: The notorious gang leader had a high price on his head, attracting bounty hunters from all over.

To go off the deep end:

Meaning: To become irrational or lose control, often in response to stress or a difficult situation.

Example: After losing his job, he went off the deep end and started engaging in criminal activities.

To play with fire:

Meaning: To engage in risky or dangerous activities that may lead to serious consequences.

Example: Robbing banks is playing with fire; sooner or later, you’ll get caught.

To turn a blind eye:

Meaning: To ignore or pretend not to notice something, especially wrongdoing or illegal activities.

Example: The corrupt official chose to turn a blind eye to the illegal activities happening under his watch.

To be a snake in the grass:

Meaning: To be a deceitful or treacherous person who hides their true intentions.

Example: Watch out for him; he’s a snake in the grass who can’t be trusted.

To rob Peter to pay Paul:

Meaning: To take from one source to provide for another, often resulting in a cycle of debt or problems.

Example: He was constantly robbing Peter to pay Paul, borrowing money from one friend to repay another.

To spill the beans:

Meaning: To reveal a secret or disclose confidential information.

Example: Under intense questioning, the suspect finally spilled the beans about the location of the stolen goods.

To have sticky fingers:

Meaning: To be prone to stealing or having a habit of taking things without permission.

Example: Be cautious when he’s around; he has a reputation for having sticky fingers.

To be in someone’s crosshairs:

Meaning: To be the target of someone’s anger, criticism, or ill intentions.

Example: After exposing the corruption within the organization, she found herself in the CEO’s crosshairs.

To throw the book at someone:

Meaning: To impose the maximum possible punishment or legal consequences on someone.

Example: If convicted, the judge is likely to throw the book at him for his involvement in the drug trafficking ring.

To break the law:

Meaning: To engage in illegal activities or violate established rules and regulations.

Example: He didn’t hesitate to break the law to achieve his goals, but eventually, justice caught up with him.

To go on a crime spree:

Meaning: To engage in a series of criminal activities or offenses over a short period.

Example: The notorious gang went on a crime spree, robbing multiple banks in a single week.

So, crime idioms are like little crime-themed nuggets in the English language that spice up your conversations.

They make things more interesting and colorful, kind of like adding hot sauce to your food.

By using these idioms, you can express yourself in a cool and catchy way without breaking a sweat.

So next time you’re chatting away, don’t forget to sprinkle in some crime lingo to make your words pop!


Check out these awesome phrases & Idioms books I recommend:

Cambridge Idioms Dictionary

IDIOMS and PHRASES Anglo,Synonyms and Antonyms Anglo,One Word Substitution

Oxford Dictionary of Idioms

3000 Idioms and Phrases+ 3000 Proverbs 

Idioms for Kids

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