nolo contendere

[ noh-loh kuh n-ten-duh-ree ]
/ ˈnoʊ loʊ kənˈtɛn də ri /

noun Law.

(in a criminal case) a defendant's pleading that does not admit guilt but subjects him or her to punishment as though a guilty plea had been entered, the determination of guilt remaining open in other proceedings.
Also nolo.

Origin of nolo contendere

1870–75; < Latin: I am unwilling to contend


acquitted innocent nolo contendere (see synonym study at innocent) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for nolo contendere

nolo contendere
/ (ˈnəʊləʊ kɒnˈtɛndərɪ) /


law, mainly US a plea made by a defendant to a criminal charge having the same effect in those proceedings as a plea of guilty but not precluding him from denying the charge in a subsequent action

Word Origin for nolo contendere

Latin: I do not wish to contend
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

Cultural definitions for nolo contendere

nolo contendere
[ (noh-loh kuhn-ten-duh-ree, kuhn-ten-duh-ray) ]

A plea that can be entered in a criminal or civil case, by which an accused person neither admits guilt nor proclaims innocence of a charge. Nolo contendere is Latin for “I do not wish to contend.”

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.