Durham rule


Definition of Durham rule

: a formerly used legal test under which a person was not judged responsible for a criminal act that was attributed to a mental disorder

First Known Use of Durham rule

1955, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for Durham rule

Monte Durham, 20th century American litigant

Learn More About Durham rule

Time Traveler for Durham rule

Time Traveler

The first known use of Durham rule was in 1955

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near Durham rule

Durham boat

Durham rule


See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for Durham rule

Cite this Entry

“Durham rule.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Durham%20rule. Accessed 28 Sep. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for Durham rule

Durham rule

Dur·​ham rule | \ ˈdu̇r-əm-, ˈdər- \

Legal Definition of Durham rule

: a rule of criminal law used in some states that holds that in order to find a defendant not guilty by reason of insanity the defendant's criminal act must be the product of a mental disease or defect — compare irresistible impulse test, m'naghten test, substantial capacity test

History and Etymology for Durham rule

from Durham v. United States, 214 F.2d 862 (1954), a case heard by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals that established the rule


Test Your Vocabulary

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!