Crime doesn’t pay

Crime doesn’t pay is a proverb that is over 100 years old. A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase that may be a famous quote, an inspirational quote, an epigram, or the topic of a parable. These common sayings are language tools or figures of speech that particularly give advice or share a universal truth, or impart wisdom. Synonyms for proverb include adage, aphorism, sayings, and byword, which can also be someone or something that is the best example of a group. Often, a proverb is so familiar that a speaker will only quote half of it, relying on the listener to supply the ending of the written or spoken proverb himself because these common phrases and popular sayings are so well known. Certain phrases may be a metaphor or a quotation; but if it is a proverb, it is often-used and has a figurative meaning. Speakers of English as a second language are sometimes confused by these pithy sayings as translations from English to other languages do not carry the impact that the English phrases carry. Some common proverbs are the wise sayings better late than never; early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise; an apple a day keeps the doctor away; don’t cry over spilt milk; actions speak louder than words; haste makes waste, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth; and a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. One of the books of the Bible is the Book of Proverbs, which contains words and phrases that are still often quoted in the English language because they are wise. Many current proverbs are quotations taken from literature, particularly Shakespeare, as well as the Bible and other sacred writings. We will examine the meaning of the proverb crime doesn’t pay, where the expression came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Crime doesn’t pay is a proverb that means the benefits reaped by breaking the law are far outweighed by the liabilities incurred by breaking the law. The idea is that though the immediate aftermath when one commits a crime may seem to be positive, eventually one’s transgressions will catch up with him and he will pay the consequences. The phrase crime doesn’t pay was used as early as the 1860s and may be an aphorism coined by moralistic Victorian-era citizens; however, the phrase crime doesn’t pay did not become popular until the 1920s-1930s. This may be related to the gang activity and lawlessness prevalent during the American Prohibition Era. Crime was often in the headlines. The phrase crime doesn’t pay was often used in fictionalized accounts of lawlessness in comic strips, books, movies, and radio shows.


The prohibition against connecting illegal structures to electricity is one of the state’s most significant tools in the fight against illegal construction; it helps ensure that crime doesn’t pay. (Israel Hayom)

“Stripping criminals of this cash and assets, including money that fuels organised crime, sends a clear message that crime doesn’t pay, and we’ll do everything we can within our powers to make sure of it.” (Manchester Evening News)

Crime doesn’t pay, but helping law enforcement solve crimes can. (Great Bend Tribune)

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