canon law


: the usually codified law governing a church

Examples of canon law in a Sentence

a marriage valid under Catholic canon law
Recent Examples on the Web Eventually, Copernicus received a degree in canon law from the University of Ferrara and returned to Poland. Danuta Hamlin, Fox News, 18 Feb. 2024 Except that Catholic canon law requires an ordained deacon or priest to say the homily at Mass, and women can be neither. Kate Brady, Washington Post, 2 Oct. 2023 Prosecutors, for their part, insisted that the defense rights had all been respected, defended the legitimacy of the trial and Francis' executive decrees and reminded lawyers that the church's canon law forms the basis of Vatican law, not Italian legislation. Nicole Winfield, ajc, 4 Oct. 2021 The attorney, canon law specialist the Rev. Pius Pietrzyk, told the Tribune that some incidents — buying a cassock for a seminarian who couldn’t afford one, or reserving a hotel conference room where alumni of a Catholic high school club could play cards — were viewed as boundary violations. John Keilman,, 3 Jan. 2022 Francis remained in charge of the Vatican and the 1.3-billion strong Catholic Church, even while unconscious and in the hospital, according to canon law. Nicole Winfield, ajc, 8 June 2023 Burke, 73, holds a doctorate in canon law. Steven Martinez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 22 Aug. 2021 In church, or canon law, parishes are separate entities with rights to their properties, but for decades titles to the properties were held by the diocese. Greg Moran, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Apr. 2023 No action was ordered under canon law. Fox News, 21 Jan. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'canon law.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of canon law was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near canon law

Cite this Entry

“Canon law.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

canon law

: the body of religious laws that govern a church

Legal Definition

canon law

: a body of religious law governing the conduct of members of a particular faith
especially : the codified church law of the Roman Catholic Church

Note: Common law has been influenced by canon law in the areas of marriage and inheritance. Roman Catholic canon law, like the civil law, has been modeled on ancient Roman law. The source for Roman Catholic canon law is the Code of Canon Law. The Rudder (Pedalion) is a source for Greek Orthodox canon law. Jewish canon law is contained in the Talmud.

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