crime vocabulary

Expand your English crime vocabulary!

There are lots of situations where you might want some crime vocabulary. Maybe you want to discuss the prison system, maybe you want to give your view on capital punishment, maybe you want to summarise a local crime incident, or maybe you just want to gossip about your favourite crime drama on TV!

Well you know I’m a big believer in learning vocabulary in context so I’ve put together a summary of a popular TV show called Prison Break so that you can identify some useful crime vocabulary.

Reading Practice

Read the summary below and think about these 2 questions:

  • Which of the characters sounds the worst to you?
  • Would you watch this show?

Prison Break is set in a maximum sentence prison. It resolves around two brothers. The older brother, Lincoln, is on death row awaiting the electric chair. He was found guilty of killing the vice president’s brother but it was a set-up and he is actually innocent. His younger brother, Scofield, wants to help Lincoln break out of jail and he devises a plan. He holds up a bank and gets himself thrown into prison alongside his brother. He has studied maps of the prison so he knows how they can escape. While incarcerated, they meet some other prisoners who become involved in the plan to escape….

crime vocabulary prison break

Westmoreland is accused of hijacking a plane and then stealing $5,000,000 ransom money. Nobody knows where the money is hidden now except Westmoreland himself and he denies the charge. Scofield persuades him to escape and share the money. Sucre is Scofield’s cellmate. He was madly in love with a girl and wanted to buy her an engagement ring so he robbed a shop at gunpoint. Nobody got hurt but his cousin snitched so he got arrested and is serving time for attempted robbery. He might get out early for good behaviour if the parole board agree. C-Note was in the army and was dismissed after he wanted to blow the whistle on some corrupt behaviour. He ended up in jail after he became desperate for money and drove a get-away vehicle. T-Bag is serving a life sentence for rape and serial murder. When he discovers the plan to escape, he forces the group to let him join them. Finally, Abruzzi is a mob leader and is locked up for a long list of organised crime, including loansharking and drug trafficking. He is determined to escape prison and get his revenge on a witness who is giving evidence against him in the trial.

The group are unlikely friends but have to work together in order to deceive the prison guards and break out. There are a lot of obstacles and tense moments along the way and it is definitely addictive viewing!

Crime Vocabulary

Have a look at the crime vocabulary in bold in the summary. You should be able to work out the meanings from the context in most cases. If not, you can use your dictionary or check the meanings below. Write any useful vocabulary in your notebook. (Check out this article on the best way to record your vocabulary.)

Writing Practice

So going back to my original questions….Which of the characters sounds the worst to you? And is this the type of TV show you would watch? I’d love to hear your thoughts – Scroll right down and leave me a comment πŸ™‚ I hope you’ve learnt some new crime vocabulary too!

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Nicki is a Cambridge qualified, experienced English teacher for foreign learners. She loves helping English learners to learn real English and communicate with confidence!

6 thoughts on “Expand your English crime vocabulary!

  1. I’m not interested in learning crime vocabularies but knowing these words really pleased to you in that sense these words will come in use when chance will come about such kind of topics. Pleased to see your multi diversity talent.

    1. Ah thanks for your lovely comment Kumed! Yes you never know when they might come in useful, and I hope you have found some other vocabulary on my website that’s more relevant for you πŸ™‚

  2. On one hand, I have never seen this programme and I do not think I would like to, either. Even though I enjoy a good suspense film from time to time, being engaged on a weekly basis with this kind of ugly themes would be tiring for me.
    On another hand, I think the worst character is Tbag because of his rapeΒ΄s accusation. However, it seems that all but Lincoln, are bad guys!
    Thanks for the post!

    1. I know exactly what you mean Monica, I managed to watch one series and then it got too much for me! Despite the theme though, it was surprisingly light-hearted.
      Just a note to be careful using ‘on the one hand…. and on the other hand’ because they should be opposing views. Apart from that though, your writing is lovely. Thanks so much for your comment πŸ™‚

  3. I have never seen this program but maybe I will watch it because it sounds interesting. In my opinion Tbag is the worst one. Thank you for the crime vocabulary Nicki

    1. You’re welcome Marie! You’re right, he is horrible….but a very good actor πŸ™‚ thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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