civil death

noun

: the status of a living person equivalent in its legal consequences to natural death
specifically : deprivation of civil rights

Examples of civil death in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg wrote the dissenting opinion, saying changing the civil death law should be up to the state legislature, not the court. Mark Pratt, BostonGlobe.com, 3 Mar. 2022 The practice of banning people from certain rights or activities because of a criminal conviction was once known as civil death. NBC News, 20 May 2021 British settlers brought the idea of civil death with them to the New World, and the first laws stripping criminals of voting rights appeared in the 1600s. Austin Sarat, The Conversation, 4 June 2020 Most civil death laws in the United States have been repealed or successfully challenged in court. USA TODAY, 4 July 2019 The concept dates to the colonial era, when certain criminals were shunned and stripped of rights, a practice known as civil death. New York Times, 11 May 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'civil death.' 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

1719, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of civil death was in 1719

Dictionary Entries Near civil death

Cite this Entry

“Civil death.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/civil%20death. Accessed 19 Apr. 2024.

Legal Definition

civil death

noun
: the status of a living person equivalent in its legal consequences to natural death
specifically : deprivation of certain civil rights upon conviction for a serious crime
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