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  1. a lawless person or habitual criminal, especially one who is a fugitive from the law.
  2. a person, group, or thing excluded from the benefits and protection of the law.
  3. a person under sentence of outlawry.
  4. a person who refuses to be governed by the established rules or practices of any group; rebel; nonconformist: one of the outlaws of country music.
  5. Chiefly Western U.S.
    1. a horse that cannot be broken; a mean, intractable horse.
    2. any rogue animal.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to make unlawful or illegal: The Eighteenth Amendment outlawed the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating beverages in the U.S.
  2. to deprive of thebenefits and protection of the law: Members of guerrilla bands who refused to surrender were outlawed.
  3. to prohibit: to outlaw smoking in a theater.
  4. to remove from legal jurisdiction; deprive of legal force.
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  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of an outlaw.
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Origin of outlaw

before 1150; Middle English outlawe, Old English ūtlaga < Old Norse ūtlagi one outside the protection of the law; see out, law1
Related formsself-out·law, nounself-out·lawed, adjectiveun·out·lawed, adjective


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for outlawed


  1. (formerly) a person excluded from the law and deprived of its protection
  2. any fugitive from the law, esp a habitual transgressor
  3. a wild or untamed beast
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verb (tr)
  1. to put (a person) outside the law and deprive of its protection
  2. (in the US) to deprive (a contract) of legal force
  3. to ban
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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 outlawed



Old English utlagian "to outlaw, banish," from utlaga "an outlaw" (see outlaw (n.)). Related: Outlawed; outlawing.

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Old English utlaga "one put outside the law" (and thereby deprived of its benefits and protections), from a Scandinavian source, cf. Old Norse utlagi (n.) "outlaw," from utlagr (adj.) "outlawed, banished," from ut "out" (see out (adv.)) + *lagu, plural of lag "law" (see law).

[G]if he man to deaðe gefylle, beo he þonne utlah ["Laws of Edward & Guthrum," c.924]

Meaning "one living a lawless life" is first recorded 1880. As an adjective from Old English.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper