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common-law

[kom-uh n-law]
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adjective
  1. of, relating to, or established by common law: a common-law spouse.

Origin of common-law

First recorded in 1905–10

common law

noun
  1. the system of law originating in England, as distinct from the civil or Roman law and the canon or ecclesiastical law.
  2. the unwritten law, especially of England, based on custom or court decision, as distinct from statute law.
  3. the law administered through the system of courts established for the purpose, as distinct from equity or admiralty.

Origin of common law

Middle English word dating back to 1300–50
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for common-law

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples


British Dictionary definitions for common-law

common law

noun
  1. the body of law based on judicial decisions and custom, as distinct from statute law
  2. the law of a state that is of general application, as distinct from regional customs
  3. common-law (modifier) denoting a marriage deemed to exist after a couple have cohabited for several yearscommon-law marriage; common-law wife
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for common-law

common law

n.

mid-14c., "the customary and unwritten laws of England as embodied in commentaries and old cases" (see common (adj.)), as opposed to statute law. Phrase common law marriage is attested from 1909.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

common-law in Culture

common law

Law developed in the course of time from the rulings of judges, as opposed to law embodied in statutes passed by legislatures (statutory law) or law embodied in a written constitution (constitutional law). (See stare decisis.)

Note

The importance of common law is particularly stressed in the legal system of Britain, on which the legal system of the United States is based.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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