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.

Nearby words

  1. nolichucky,
  2. noll,
  3. nolle prosequi,
  4. nollekens,
  5. nolo,
  6. noludar,
  7. nom,
  8. nom de guerre,
  9. nom de plume,
  10. nom.

Also nolo.

Origin of nolo contendere

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

Can be confusedacquitted innocent nolo contendere (see synonym study at innocent) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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

Word Origin and History for nolo contendere

nolo contendere

Latin, literally "I do not wish to contend." A plea that admits no guilt but subjects the defendant to judgment.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture 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.