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I need suggestions for different ways to say "turning criminal," as in "He began turning criminal, committing illegal acts instead of abiding by the law."

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4 Answers 4

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If you're going for subtlety, try

He began to cross the line, committing illegal acts instead of upholding the law...

Other phrases you could substitute here for the bold text would be:

  • turn to crime
  • cross over
  • cross into the dark side (pop culture reference)

Edit: if the character was also homosexual you could make a double entendre with the phrase batting for the other team

Edit2: triple entendre if he was into baseball.

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  • 2
    Hahahaha +1 for triple entendre.
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 25, 2015 at 18:23
  • 1
    @DanBron: This is priceless. "The triple entendre is an elusive-ass motherf****r."
    – Tushar Raj
    Jun 25, 2015 at 18:30
  • @TusharRaj That is great. I'd +1 your comment, but I'm all out of +1s today.
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 25, 2015 at 18:57
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Become crooked

adjective
4. not straightforward; dishonest.

(dictionary.reference.com)

Almost always meant in a criminal way. (i.e. a crook.)

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Resorting to criminality.

This amounts to another way of saying the same thing.

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Since recidivism means returning to crime, it seems to me that the initial turning would be;

cidivism

"He was a paragon of propriety until he turned into a cidivist"

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