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Legal Dictionary

in flagrante delicto

Definition of in flagrante delicto

Etymology

    From Medieval Latin, literally "while the crime is blazing", from Latin in + flagro ("burn") + delicto, form of delictum ("crime, misdeed").

Adverb

in flagrante delicto (not comparable)

  1. In the act of committing a misdeed.
  2. While performing sexual activity.

Usage notes

Also used in abbreviated in flagrante.

Particularly used of sexual activity, as in "to be caught in flagrante".

Anglicized form in flagrant delict also appears, but is significantly less common.

Synonyms

  • in flagrante (colloquial)
  • in flagrant delict
  • in the act
  • red-handed

Further reading

In flagrante delicto (Latin: "in blazing offence") or sometimes simply in flagrante (Latin: "in blazing") is a legal term used to indicate that a criminal has been caught in the act of committing an offence (compare corpus delicti). The colloquial "caught in the act", "caught red-handed", or "caught rapid" are English equivalents.

The phrase combines the present active participle flagrans (flaming or blazing) with the noun delictum (offence, misdeed, or crime). In this term the Latin preposition in, not indicating motion, takes the ablative. The closest literal translation would be "in blazing offence", where "blazing" is a metaphor for vigorous, highly visible action.

Aside from the legal meaning, the Latin term is often used colloquially as a euphemism for someone's being caught in the midst of sexual activity.

References:

  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.



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