What Does Aiding and Abetting Mean?

Aiding and Abetting Meaning

Definition: To assist with or encourage something illegal or otherwise wrong.

Origin of Aiding and Abetting

Aid is a synonym for help.

The word abet comes from a French word meaning to hound, to bite, or to encourage. Abet was the term used for dogs attacking trapped bears before aid and abet became common.

However, when this expression originated in the late 1700s, people did not use it in this way, or meaning bite or attack bears, as often.

Nowadays, it is almost always used in a legal sense, indicating some type of criminal action.

Examples of Aiding and Abetting

meaning of aid and abetIn this example, a man uses the expression while playing tennis with his friend.

Rodrigo: Good hit, Alisha!

Alisha: You too! Okay, it’s my turn to serve. Here you go!

Rodrigo: Whoops!

Alisha: Rodrigo, you just hit the ball over the fence and into the neighbor’s yard. Darn. Now we’re going to have to climb the fence and go get it. Come on. Let’s go.

Rodrigo: No way! I’m not going to aid and abet you in this crime!

Alisha: What crime?

Rodrigo: Breaking and entering! You can’t just break the lock on your neighbors’ fence and go into their yard without their permission.

Alisha: Calm down. I’m not going to break the lock. I’m just going to jump over the fence. Also, they told me I’m welcome to come into their yard at any time for stuff like this. Don’t worry.

meaning of aid and abet In the example below, two friends are discussing a bad memory.

Luis: Do you remember that time the police tried to arrest me?

Stephanie: Of course! A store manager caught your friend shoplifting and thought you were helping her.

Luis: Yeah, the police wanted to charge me with aiding and abetting. I’m not sure what happened to make them drop those charges.

Stephanie: I think they realized they had no proof. The whole thing was on video, and you never even were looking at your friend while she was stealing. It was clear you knew nothing about it.

More Examples

This quote is about those is in the tech field not wanting terrorists to use their technology.

  • “They certainly don’t have any interest or desire in seeing their tools and their technology being used to aid and abet terrorists,” Earnest said. –LA Times

This excerpt is from an article about the differences between mainstream media and conservative media.

  • “There is no evidence that backs up the president’s original claim. And on this program tonight, we will not insult your intelligence by pretending otherwise, nor will we aid and abet the people who are trying to misinform you, the American people, by creating a diversion. Not gonna do it.” –LA Times


The phrase aid and abet means help someone else do something illegal. It means that even if you don’t do anything illegal directly, if you help someone else do something illegal, you are also guilty.