Difference between "suspected", "a suspect" and "suspicious"



What is the difference in meaning between

  • suspected: have an idea or impression of the existence, presence, or truth of (something) without certain proof.
  • suspicious having or showing a cautious distrust of someone or something.
  • a suspect a person thought to be guilty of a crime or offence:

All definitions taken from Oxford Dictionaries

Could you give me some examples please?

R .s

Posted 2016-11-19T18:14:55.267

Reputation: 137

Question was closed 2016-11-20T17:41:39.177

3Have you consulted a dictionary, and do you mean suspicious? – Mick – 2016-11-19T18:18:51.990

Yes .. sorry : I wrote it by mistake – R .s – 2016-11-19T18:34:47.350

It is suspicious .. – R .s – 2016-11-19T18:36:13.227

That just leaves my first question. – Mick – 2016-11-19T18:55:31.820

No .. but i wish u help me with that because i dont have time to search on the dictionary ... I have alot of subjects to study now . – R .s – 2016-11-19T19:29:04.960


We understand, but on this SE, we usually ask for more details, like the research you have done. Otherwise, this question might be considered as "answerable by a dictionary", which is off-topic.

– Em. – 2016-11-19T19:52:38.480

I could have provided the same first definition for "a suspect" but because there is an article, the term is a noun, and the dictionary does give a good clear definition of this word. – Mari-Lou A – 2016-11-19T20:53:56.947

It took much more of your time to ask here than it would have to consult a dictionary, yet you tell us "i dont have time to search on the dictionary"! Not every question can be answered by a dictionary entry, but we expect you to at least make the effort! – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica – 2016-11-19T23:59:50.163

I respect your opinion .. i asked my teachers about this but i still confused .. . And i singed up on this site since few days i dont know the rules here .. – R .s – 2016-11-22T19:02:02.573

I have cast my vote to reopen this question, the research has been added (the dictionary definitions) and Jay's answer is so good (which I upvoted) it deserves more recognition and exposure. – Mari-Lou A – 2016-11-23T06:13:24.457



We say "suspected" (as an adjective) to refer to a person or thing that we think may have done whatever, some specific act, or be whatever, some specific object.

We say "suspicious" to refer to a person or thing that is of a type or character that leads us to think that they may do bad things.

For example, suppose a crime has been committed, say a murder. You might say, "Fred Jones is the suspected killer." That is, the authorities think that Fred Jones may have committed the crime.

But if you say, "Fred Jones is a suspicious character", you mean that he seems like the sort of person who might commit a crime, but you are not accusing him of any particular crime. Maybe he has committed crimes in the past, maybe you just think he "looks like a criminal", whatever.

So someone might well say, "Fred Jones is suspected because he is suspicious." That is, the fact that he seems like the sort of person who would commit a crime leads us to think that he might have committed this particular crime.

Note that "suspected" can also be a verb. "The police suspected Fred Jones."

"Suspicious" can also mean that a person is distrustful. Like, "Ever since her purse was stolen from her desk, Alice has become suspicious of all her co-workers." That is, "suspicious" has two almost opposite meanings: it can mean that a person is the sort of person we think would commit a crime, or it can mean that a person thinks that others might commit a crime. If you just said, "Bob is a suspicious person" with no context, it wouldn't be clear if you mean that he acts like a criminal or that he thinks that others are criminals.

I've been saying "crime" here, but "suspected" and "suspicious" don't necessarily refer to literal crimes, just any undesirable activity. You could say, "What made Bob gain so much weight? Those candy bars he eats are suspected."

Sometimes people even use these words for positive things. Like, "Sally was the suspected source of the anonymous birthday cards."


Posted 2016-11-19T18:14:55.267

Reputation: 51 729

Maybe you could place the key words in bold, it's merely an aesthetic touch but it does help viewers identify the three terms. – Mari-Lou A – 2016-11-23T06:14:50.410